Tunisia: Information on the availability of state protection to divorced women facing threats from male family members
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 September 1997|
|Citation / Document Symbol||TUN27780.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Tunisia: Information on the availability of state protection to divorced women facing threats from male family members, 1 September 1997, TUN27780.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac72c.html [accessed 30 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The following information was provided to the DIRB in a 17 September 1997 telephone interview with a representative of the Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates, a non-governmental organization concerned with women's issues in Tunisia. In some Tunisian families, especially conservative ones, divorce is considered to be shameful, and it is therefore possible that a divorced woman in Tunisia could face violence from family members. The normal procedure for a woman being abused by relatives would be to go to the police station to register a complaint. If a woman's life is in immediate danger and she telephones the police, the police likely would intervene; however, many households in Tunisia are not equipped with telephones. The source also stated that many women who are being abused by relatives would not seek protection from the authorities. Women in such situations are often afraid of leaving the family and feel ashamed at registering a formal complaint against a family member. This sense of shame is often reinforced by neighbours, especially in the case of women from poor neighbourhoods, where neighbours often play a major role in personal and family life. Moreover, women often do not know the procedures involved in registering a complaint and procuring the services of a lawyer. The Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates helps abused women to register complaints, find lawyers and apply for legal aid. There are no shelters for battered women in Tunisia, and the Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates has only one office, which is in Tunis.
The following information was provided to the DIRB in a 17 September 1997 telephone conversation with the former president of a major women's organization in Tunisia. The source stated that if the police are called to a home where a woman is being attacked by a male family member, it is unlikely they would enter the home to intervene, especially if a man comes to the door. Women in Tunisia have the legal right to lodge complaints against male family members who attack them, but many Tunisian women do not know their rights in this regard. Moreover, police officers tend to reproach women who lodge complaints against male family members by stating or suggesting that to lodge such a complaint is shameful. There are many female lawyers and judges in Tunisia, but very few female police officers.
For additional information on the above-mentioned subject please see Response to Information Request TUN27627.F of 28 August 1997 and its attachments.
For information on social attitudes toward violence against women in Arab countries including Tunisia, please see the attached 29 June 1995 Reuters report. For information on the condition of women in the Middle East and North Africa including Tunisia, please see the attached 17 August 1995 Inter Press Service report. For information on changes in Tunisian law relating to divorce and domestic violence, please see the attached excerpts from an article in the July-September 1994 issue of Monde arabe maghreb-machrek.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates, Tunis. 17 September 1997. Telephone interview with a representative.
Former president of a major Tunisian women's organization, Tunis. 17 September 1997. Telephone interview.
Inter Press Service. 17 August 1995. Susan Litherland. "Middle East ( Women: Women's Progress Slow and Patchy." (NEXIS)
Monde arabe maghreb-machrek [Paris]. July-September 1994. No. 145. Zakya Daoud. "Les femmes tunisiennes: gains juridiques et statut économique et social," pp. 27, 36, 38, 40-42, 47-48.
Reuters North American Wire. 29 June 1995. BC Cycle. Zeina Soufan. "Angry Arab Women Complain of Male Violence." (NEXIS)