By Roy Lie A Tjam.
On Monday May 12 2014, the International Women’s Contact, dedicated their monthly meeting to a lecture with the theme “Tunisian women’s rights after the Arab Spring” The anthropologist and lawyer Dr. Maaike Voorhoeve delivered the lecture. The venue for this event was The Crowne Plaza Hotel in The Hague. The Ambassador for Tunisia, H.E. Karim Ben Becher thanked the International Women’s Contact for rendering the event possible.
From the January 2011 revolution and onwards, Tunisia has been experiencing a period of uncertainty as to what the ‘new’ Tunisia should look like, notably the position of women is one of paramount concern.
To her Maghrebian neighbors and the rest of the region, Tunisia is well known for her protection of women’s rights. The 1956 code put in place by President Habib Bourguiba, making polygamy etc. illegal. Subsequent laws, protecting women’s right were adopted in 1978, and 1993.
According to Dr. Voorhoeve, it can’t be denied that the feminist laws and policies were decided in the fifties by the first Tunisian President Bourguiba on a population that might not have been ready for it at that time. With the political ‘ouverture’ following the revolution, the question arises as to what will happen to these progressive laws once they are subjected to democratic scrutiny.
The fear of the protected women’s rights losing influence, emerging after the 2011 Arab Spring, was disregarded by the mobilization of the civil society, lead by an intellectual avant-garde. Under the ancient regime these rights were used as an alibi. The feminists aspire to see these rights secured by the implementation of the new constitution, adopted in January 2014.