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Ed Webb

Tunisian women's rights plan rattles Muslim traditionalists | Religion News Service - 0 views

  • An initiative by Tunisia’s president to make inheritance and marriage rules fairer to women is reverberating around the Muslim world, and risks dividing his country
  • He’s gambling that he could shepherd through such changes because his secular party is in a coalition with an Islamist one, and because his overwhelmingly Muslim country has a history of relatively progressive views toward women.
  • the Tunisian parliament has overturned the law that banned women from marrying non-Muslims
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  • Mainstream Muslim clerics almost universally see the inheritance rules as enshrined in the Quran, Islam’s holy book, and consider the rules on marriage to be equally unquestionable in Shariah. Most Muslim-majority countries in the Mideast and Asia enforce the rules since they use Shariah as the basis for personal status and family law
  • The first president of independent Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, championed a landmark social code in 1956 that set a standard for the region by banning polygamy and granting new rights to women unheard of in the Arab world at the time. But even he didn’t dare push for equal inheritance.
  • the proposals sparked a heated debate on social media networks among Egyptians. Supporters of Essebsi’s initiative said Al-Azhar was showing its true colors as a bastion of religious militancy
  • Muslim parents who see the inheritance laws as unjust often resort to putting assets in their daughters’ names during their lifetimes. In Lebanon, some Sunni men convert to Shiism to take advantage of what they see as the minority sect’s more equal treatment of women when it comes to inheritance. Tunisia is overwhelmingly Sunni.
  • There are some Muslim theologians who argue that the one-half inheritance for women is not absolute in the Quran and that it is open for reinterpretation to fit the Quran’s requirements for justice and equality. Still, the mainstream view is deeply entrenched. In Tunisia, the country’s leading imams and theologians issued a statement denouncing the president’s proposals as a “flagrant violation of the precepts” of Islam.
  • Several analysts suggest the president is trying to win back support from women who supported him widely in 2014 elections for his modernizing program, but then grew disillusioned after he allied with the Islamist party.
Ed Webb

Tunisia's Compromise Constitution - Sada - 0 views

  • Despite the reassurances of articles 40 and 45 as safeguards for women’s rights in Tunisia’s next constitution, women’s rights groups nonetheless still see much work to be done. They fear that article 7, which defines the family as “the nucleus of society” might be used later to limit women’s rights. For example, this could mean limiting women’s right to a divorce in the name of protecting the family. They also argue that article 21, which states that “the right to life is sacred” could be used to ban abortion, which is currently legal in the early stages of pregnancy. More likely, women’s rights groups could use articles 20 and 45 to push for a revision of the inheritance law, which is currently based in Islamic law.
  • While Western observers praise the current text as the best and most modern constitution in the Arab world, many Tunisians say that they do not want to have the most modern one in the region, but would rather see a good, coherent constitution. As it stands, the text reflects well the antagonisms that shape Tunisian society itself—compared to the 1959 post-independence constitution, which was closer to the elite’s vision of society than to social reality. The new text also highlights Tunisia’s contradictions. It will be for the Constitutional Court, to be established for the first time in the country’s history, to find (for the roughly 150 articles of text) a coherent interpretation that aims to guarantee Tunisians a democratic future.
Ed Webb

Equality of the Sexes Contested on National Women's Day : Tunisia Live - News, Economy,... - 0 views

  • First celebrated in Tunisia over fifty years ago, National Women’s Day commemorates the adoption of Tunisia’s Code of Personal Status (CPS), which was promulgated on August 13, 1956. The first law passed after the country gained independence from French rule, the CPS redefined the role of women within Tunisian society. The law outlawed polygamy, banned the wearing of the hijab, established a judicial process for divorce, and required the consent of both parties for a marriage to be considered valid. It also defined men and women as equal citizens and granted the right to comparable wages for men and women.
  • In particular, post-revolutionary power gains by Islamist political parties, such as Tunisia’s Ennahdha party, have led to unease among feminists. “Now, they [Ennahdha] want to take back all that we had achieved,” Saida Rachid stated today to Tunisia Live. “Unlike the reassuring and calming declarations from the Ennahdha party after the [October 2011 Constituent Assembly] elections, claiming that Tunisian women’s rights would remain safe, we are now under serious threat.” Rachid referred to article 28 of Tunisia’s draft constitution as particularly dangerous to women’s post-revolutionary gains. Terming women as man’s “partner,” the clause states that man’s and woman’s roles in the family are “complimentary.” The proposed article was approved by the Commission of Rights and Liberties on August 1 with a vote of 12 to 8, with Ennahdha party members comprising 9 of the votes in favor
  • Ennahdha Constituent Assembly member Souad Abderrahim called the public reaction to the article “very exaggerated.” She explained, “It is still a draft and not a final one…We wrote that women and men are complementary to each other, and not that women complement men. Second, we already mentioned the word ‘equality’ in article 22.”
Ed Webb

Ministry of Women's Affairs Bans Niqab from Children's Public Institutions : Tunisia Live - 0 views

  • The ministry stressed that educators should refrain from disseminating any particular ideologies, and strongly advised that singing, acting, and painting – as well as other activities that in recent instances had been labeled by educators as “forbidden” – be avoided, as well.
  • “We must abide by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which bans any sort of ideological persuasion [when teaching], whether political or religious. We have international commitments to provide favorable learning conditions, and we should abide by them,”
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