UN Concerned by Discrimination Against Women

23/08/2002
Report
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The FIDH, the LTDH and the ATFD publish a report on "Discrimination and Violence Against Women in Tunisia," while the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women makes general recommendations to Tunisia


[only in FR] Rapport conjoint soumis au Comité sur l’élimination de la discrimination à l’égard des femmes Discriminations et violences contre les femmes en Tunisie (pdfile 521 ko)


Tunisian law has, since the promulgation of the Personal Status Code of 1956, adopted several laws in order to mitigate discrimination and violence against women. Nevertheless, women continue to be plagued by these scourges due to the ambiguities in Tunisian law: the law does not clearly define discrimination against women, omits many forms of discrimination, and is not always applied.

The report "Discrimination and Violence Against Women in Tunisia," published by the FIDH, the Tunisian League of Human RIGHTS (LTDH), and the Tunisian Association of Women for Democracy (ATFD), brings to the fore the "alibi speech" of the Tunisian authorities on the "exemplary" emancipation of Tunisian women, that conceals a widespread practice of violence. Conjugal and domestic violence are the most frequent forms of violence, taking different forms, such as blows and injuries, death threats, marital rape, partners who prevent their wife from going to her workplace, humiliation, forced abortion...The second most common form of violence, workplace violence, remains unpunished the most often: women, either afraid or ashamed, rarely lodge complaints. Furthermore, the police, health professionals, judicial system, and politicians who are responsible for repressing these forms of violence, are unaware of them, trivialize them, and even legitimize them. As for the judicial system, it often treats cases in contempt of the law.

As the 18 independent experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have revealed, Tunisian legislation, in particular the law on nationality and the Personal Status Code, remain quite discriminatory. The discrimination is especially striking in matters of inheritance: not only is the property of inheritance greater for men than for women, but the texts privilege men, as they inherit twice as much as women. Furthermore, although the Tunisian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, a circular of 1973, validated by the Cassation Court, introduces discrimination against non-Muslim women. The discrimination based on women’s religious affiliation limits their right to own, to manage, to inherit, and to pass on their assets. Thus, a Christian or Jewish wife cannot receive an inheritance from her Muslim husband, just as the wife and the children of the same religion as their father cannot receive an inheritance from her.

The joint FIDH, LTDH and ATDF report also denounces the State’s role as an instigator of political violence against women. The systematic repression of human rights defenders constitutes an attack on the free participation of women in public life; the repression targeting the ATFD clearly illustrates this. The women participating in human rights activities are the victims of systematic violence, which sometimes reaches the extreme of physical aggression.

All forms of discrimination that the CEDAW denounces find their legal translation in the provisions made by Tunisia in three major articles of the Constitution that guarantee 1), gender equality in matters of nationality 2), freedom of circulation, and 3), domestic and marital relations. The CEDAW thus urges Tunisia to lift these provisions with all due speed.
The FIDH calls on the Tunisian authorities to thoroughly follow up on the dialogue, held in June 2002 between the CEDAW experts and the Tunisian delegation presided by the Minister of Women’s and Family Affairs, which has just found expression in the publication of CEDAW’s conclusions. It seems that up until now, Tunisia has failed to take concrete measures in this sense. First, it is regrettable that the Tunisian authorities were not called sooner before the CEDAW: the last debate on Tunisia took place in 1995 and yet, in accordance with the Convention on the Discrimination Against Women, Tunisia was expected to be examined by the Committee four years later. Secondly, one must note that most of the recommendations published by the CEDAW in 2002 had already been made to Tunisia in 1995, and have since yet to be followed.

The FIDH urges the Tunisian government to lift the provisions it established in the Convention on Discrimination Against Women and to ratify the Additional Protocol to the Convention on individual complaints, in order to allow women who are victims of discrimination to lodge complaints before the Committee. This procedure would offer an appeal mechanism, which is long awaited, difficult, and even impossible in Tunisia.

The FIDH emphasizes the fact that that the Tunisian government has also failed to appear before other supervisory committees of various United Nations treaties: the Committee Against Torture has summoned Tunisia since 1999, the Committee on Human Rights, since February 1998, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural, since June 2000, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, since January 1994. The FIDH calls on Tunisia to appear before these United Nations committees with all due speed, so as to comply with the country’s international human rights obligations.


[only in FR] Rapport conjoint soumis au Comité sur l’élimination de la discrimination à l’égard des femmes Discriminations et violences contre les femmes en Tunisie (pdfile 521 ko)


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