Tunisian authorities are failing to protect women from domestic violence despite enacting a strong law in 2017, Human Rights Watch said in a report published today.
The 94-page report, “So What If He Hit You?: Addressing Domestic Violence in Tunisia,” found that despite the commitment of some officials and one of the strongest laws against domestic violence in the Middle East and North Africa, poor implementation of the law leaves women at risk of violence. The authorities fail to systematically respond, investigate, and provide protection to women who report violence, and a lack of funding for support services, such as shelter, has left many survivors with nowhere to escape.
“The adoption of Law-58 was an important and long-fought achievement to combat violence against women in Tunisia,” said Kenza Ben Azouz, Finberg fellow at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Five years on, however, many women continue to face severe abuse by their spouses and other family members and are denied the protections and assistance owed to them from the authorities.”
In 2021 and 2022, Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 100 people across Tunisia, including 30 survivors of domestic abuse, police officers, lawyers, judges, and service providers about the Tunisian authorities’ response to domestic violence.
“I feel like I am walking toward my own death,” said a 40-year-old survivor, who said the authorities refused to help her after her husband beat her with a brick.
Human Rights Watch found that most Tunisian women, especially if they live in the countryside or are illiterate, are unaware of the measures and services available to protect them from violence under Law-58. This is due, in part, to inadequate public information campaigns and signage. Continue Reading