By Nirettin Yigit
Tunisia is one of the most secularist countries in the Arab World and can look back on this tradition since 1956. The Code of Personal Status (CPS), a series of progressive laws was introduced under the first President of the Republic of Habib Bourguiba, which established equality between women and men, abolished polygamy and the practice of repudiatio. This Act was continued under the reign of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and only provided with some modifications.
After Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in January 2011 following the Arab Spring uprisings, the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), elected after his downfall, began to draft a new national charter. The moderate-Islamist Ennahda Movement under the rule of Rachid al-Ghannouchi won the first-free elections in October 2011 in the history of Tunis and they are currently represented in 89 of 217 seats in Parliament.
Now the conservative majority in the Parliament has proposed a draft bill for a new constitution and this included Item 27, the cause of the protests. This article contains the principle of “complementarity of the woman with the man,” that is a complement, “in the bosom of the family” and the woman was a “companion for the man in the construction of the fatherland” Thereupon Thousands of Tunisian women took to the streets of the capital Tunis, went to protest this article from the draft of the country’s new constitution. The protesters carried placards with slogans such as “Rise up women for your rights.” They fear in the first steps to curtail women’s rights.
A petition addressed to the NCA was put forward with more than 8000 online signatures, saying “the state is about to vote on an article in the constitution that limits the citizenship rights of women, under the principle of their complementarity to men and not their equality.”