Tunisian Progressiveness Compromised?

Tunisia, has always been viewed as the most progressive Arab country with respect to women’s rights. In 1956, when Tunisia gained its independence, a Code of Personal Status was enacted, abolishing polygamy and repudiation, enabling women to file unilaterally for divorce, establishing a minimum age for marriage and the necessary consent of both spouses. From 1987 to 2011, despite the authoritarian character of Ben Ali’s regime, Tunisia remained the most secular country in the Arab world. With the “Arab Spring” and the fall of Ben Ali, the Ennahda, a moderate islamist party, has substantially grown to become the biggest Tunisian party and with that, the tensions of Islamist-secularist have risen. Worries have grown that the progressiveness of Tunisia may be compromised and that the Ennahda’s aim is to restrain women’s freedoms, which until recently, were taken for granted. In the words of Octavia Nasr, former CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, “Signs of extremism are everywhere from the main streets to the alleys of the capital Tunis (…), The news stories indicate a deterioration of the Tunisian woman’s status, her role and her political, as well as social, involvement”. The truth is that no one is sure of what will happen. Follow the news and Spread the Word…

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