Sexual violence against women. A taboo of Tunisian society (Jalel Lahbib and Olfa Belhassine)

A study entitled “Ena Zeda, sexual harassment in Tunisia. Between the taboo and the release of the speech of
women ”, published in December 2021, the other was presented in Tunis on Sunday 12 June by
the sociologist Dorra Mahfoudh as part of the Echos Féministes festival. An organized event
by the Aswat Nissa Association.
Founded in 2011, Aswat Nissa is part of an independent feminist movement based on NGOs.
such as the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (Atfd) or the Tunisian Association for Research
on development (Afturd). Born in a context of digital transition, the association has been able to adapt new ones
communication tools and in particular on social media to make the voice of the
women victims of sexual violence. Hence the training of Aswat Nissa of the Ena Zeda campaign, the
Tunisian Me Too, since its launch in October 2019 following images posted on Tunisian social media
a newly elected deputy, caught by police for raping a high school student on his own

The Aswat Nissa Association, after following the case of the young victim, decided to launch a
Facebook group called EnaZeda in order to support the high school student, but also everyone
other women victims of sexual violence, offering legal guidance to people who want to apply to
complaint. Very quickly, a community of 41,000 members formed around the campaign. He
the witnesses, more than 1000, are overwhelming.
Entrusting women’s stories to two sociologists, Dorra Mahfoudh and Amel Mahfoudh, both specialists
of gender, the NGO has wanted to scrutinize and analyze a body of trauma to better understand a phenomenon
it remained hidden for decades. Hence the study entitled: “Ena Zeda, sexual harassment in Tunisia. Between
taboo and liberation from women’s discourse ”, published in December 2021 and presented the day before yesterday by
Dorra Mahfoudh as part of the festival.
The study of the content reveals the extent of the violence. Sexual harassment is the first: 34.5%.
It is followed by incestuous violence, 19.3%, rape, 19.3% and non-consensual relationships, 12.6%. He
Authors are usually family members, network members, friends, or colleagues.
very often neighbors (27%). The places of the drama are the private house (34%), the school, the institute or
the university (26.4%), the neighborhood and the street (21%) and the workplace (18%).
According to the results of Dorra Mahfoudh and Amel Mahfoudh, the consequences of violence
Sex with women is catastrophic, as 70% of them still suffer from psychological consequences.
7.5% said he had retired on his own. According to the study, relationships between couples are
He also worries when the spouse was a victim during his or her married life or before intercourse
non-consensual sex.

Much remains to be done
The last part of the study deals with the impact of the Ena Zeda movement on Internet users and on
particularly about the victims. A questionnaire about the Ena Zeda group was also published in July 2021
on the Aswat Nissa Facebook page. 104 people answered the questionnaire. Expectations
awakened by the Ena Zeda group range from attentive listening to survivors of violence, to the esteem of
real value of the damage suffered, to the recognition of the responsibility of the harasser, to the alert a
public authorities and the establishment of psychological assistance to victims.

The online survey, on the other hand, found that the campaign contributed to raising awareness
general gender-based violence and sexual harassment according to 50.5% of respondents. He
The movement also pushed women to have the courage to speak out and defend themselves (14.8%). Always second
Online Survey 4% of respondents believe that men’s views on harassment are not
changed due to this movement.
“Much remains to be done and the social dynamics initiated deserve to be strengthened,” he concludes
Dorra Mahfoudh.

Unfortunately, Dorra is right. Tunisian society remained sexist despite the 2011 revolution.
Don’t be fooled by the images of Western-dressed girls attending cafes
traditionally reserved for men only or bathing in costumes in Tunis, Hammamet, Carthage
and other coastal cities. In most parts of the country, women remain relegated to a role
secondary, forced to arrive virgin at marriage. Female schooling, even at the level
has increased but there is no proportion between girls in high school or university studies and those who
enter the world of work. Education is often understood as an improvement of women
marriage prediction.

Hundreds of Tunisian girls live their youth in anticipation of marriage, watching soap operas
national or Turkish, the latter very fashionable, and runs through social media in search of frivolous news and
mundane to express her femininity. Most guys are sexually frustrated. A
a young Tunisian man runs the risk of being a virgin at the age of 30 if he does not access legalized prostitution services
in the country, by the obligation imposed by the families to celebrate the traditional wedding that has lasted since then
From 3 to 6 days and costs no less than 8,000 euros when an average salary is around 350 euros a month.
Even all banks operating in Tunisia offer loans for marriage. From the law
Islamic prohibits usury, so the interest on the loan, the banks charge a percentage for the service
lending money that is actually disguised interest is sometimes well above the interest it charges
other banks in other countries.

Not even the law has adapted to the times. A rapist can “avoid being convicted if he agrees.”
marry the victim. If she refuses, the rapist’s sentence is void. Extramarital sex
and those before marriage are criminally punished. The woman receives a sentence of one
year in prison while the man only one day in prison as he is considered a victim
female provocation.

These blatantly misogynistic social and legal norms do not necessarily come from religion
Muslim. Its origins are often a mixture of misinterpretations of the Qur’an and tribal traditions.
In this climate of sexual repression and the declassification of the female role, proliferation is evident
sexual violence. If the Tunisian government wants to fight the phenomenon seriously, it must be equipped
modern laws to protect women, start educational campaigns in schools, promote
women’s employment and women’s rights associations. There is no other alternative

Jalel Lahbib and Olfa Belhassine

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