Narrowing the Gap Between Tunisia’s Gender Laws and Women’s Reality

A woman walks past graffiti in Sidi Bouzid, where the protests that lit the Arab world began, Tunisia, Oct. 19, 2011 (AP photo by Amine Landoulsi).
A woman walks past graffiti in Sidi Bouzid, where the protests that lit the Arab world began, Tunisia, Oct. 19, 2011 (AP photo by Amine Landoulsi).

When Tunisians overthrew dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, they kicked off a wave of popular uprisings throughout the Middle East and spurred a jubilant sense of unity at home. But for champions of women’s rights in the country, that jubilation was soon replaced by a sense of dread over what might happen to those rights as Islamist conservatism began to take hold. While Ben Ali’s two decades in power were marked by corruption, human rights abuses and tight restrictions on free speech and political opposition, his regime did preserve the secular foundations of Tunisia’s strong women’s rights legislation, […]

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