Tunisia began #MeToo Outside Conservatory. Will he end in Court?

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TUNIS – The power imbalance could not be predicted. On the one hand, a prominent politician, who was first elected to Parliament. On the other hand, a 19 year old student who attributed him sexually harassed outside his high school.

The students' charges – originally posted, with photographic evidence, encouraged a private Facebook group – not only was there shock and unrest, but it also encouraged the rapid rise of social media support with Tunisia's response. #MeToo movement. Many of the posts were carrying the hashtag #EnaZeda, Tunisian dialect for #MeToo.

Women of all ages and social backgrounds began to share their experiences of harassment and abuse, sometimes anonymously, for the first time, in a #EnaZeda private group with more than 17,000 members and a more public Facebook page. 70,000 jobs and opinions.

But if #EnaZeda's long-term impact is to quickly rise to match perhaps the fate of the legal case regarding the charges of the student, which stays early always, will be felt with major obstacles ahead.

In Nabeul, the coastal city where the student took the photographs on 10 October, the public prosecutor opened a public dissatisfaction and sexual harassment case not to wait for a formal complaint, citing the accused's significance.

The politician, Zouheir Makhlouf, refuses to do anything dissatisfied and has not been charged with a crime. And no fees or hearing date have been announced, the case could soon be obsolete: When makers take their seats, it is expected on November 13, that may be Mr Makhlouf is able to claim parliamentary immunity.

“It is true that getting a seat from the judge before the abuser takes his seat,” said Naima Chabbouh, one of the student's lawyers, whose name was not published, as is usual in such cases in Tunisia.

Tunisia Constitution Ms Chabbouh said, “but, depending on the judge, the interpretation of the article can be extended.” t

Malek Ben Jaafar, another of the student lawyers, said, “We want it to be considered as a question of sexual harassment and not only is it public dissatisfaction because it could set a legal precedent and encourage other women to t file a complaint. ” t

Tunisia has a proud tradition of spontaneous tradition, creating a real change. The Arab Spring revolutions began here in late 2010 afterwards protest from suicide suicide suicide.

As a result of the rebellion, the country's long-term leader, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, was replaced by democracy, who recently completed his second set of free presidential elections.

Tunisia was one of the most progressive countries in the Arab world for women's rights. Measures such as a law dealing with violence against women, passed in 2017, provide a system of safety for women who wish to deny abuse, harassment and violence based on their gender.

However, in 97 per cent of sexual harassment cases, the victim does not file an official complaint or the alleged attacker avoids a penalty, 2017 report at the Tunisia Center for Research, Study, Documentation and Female Information, which operates under the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs. More recent statistics are not available.

“It is still difficult to prove that there was sexual harassment,” said Fadoua Braham, a lawyer who dealt with a number of harassment cases. “Even if he is penalized and given some definitions, the most difficult thing for women is to get proof and stay strong during the judicial process, which is often difficult,” she said.

“In cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, for example, women who speak out, who are concerned about the reputation of their company, are often not supported by their employer,” she said. “Worse, women can focus their own abusers on defamation when they have the courage to file a complaint.”

The photographic evidence could make such an outcome less likely in this case.

Because she was walking back to school from her lunch break, the student wrote 19 years of age Facebook, she noticed that a car seemed to be followed. She took her cell phone out.

When she moved closer, she saw photographs of the license plate, she saw who was inside the car: a local politician, who was elected to Parliament the previous day, with her trousers down and her wool or cream on one side.

Mr Makhlouf, who became a human rights advocate, maintains an innocent explanation: He says he is diabetic and often needs to make urine as he moves and that he is applying cream to treat to do.

The hashtag #EnaZeda began to appear on Twitter shortly after the student posted the pictures. Later, his Facebook page supporters created the same hashtag that invited women to publish their experiences, anonymously if they wished.

Aswat Nissa, a women's rights organization, created a private Facebook group that gets accounts from women every day. The association is a group administrator; checks the accounts sent in private messages and publishes them in public, anonymously on request.

“We didn't expect so much evidence and requests to go into the group,” said Sonia Ben Miled, communications manager for Aswat Nissa. “It was really great but at the same time it was so valuable. It shows how many women were required to speak and created the fact that it was to support the victim in the first place a real strength based on solidarity. ”

Hajer L, 25, a director's assistant who did not want to publish her last name because she feared she was reluctant in her place of work, which was among those who spoke for the first time on the group.

“From the scandal, I wanted to share what I lived on a daily basis,” she said: “A man in the subway is meeting him next to me or a director making comments about my breasts looking like leeks in front of a crew during shooting, or another assistant who takes my hands in a whistle and makes it valid when giving him working documents. ”

“He could go on forever,” she said. “#EnaZeda never put me first. Some of us used daily harassment on the street – #EnaZeda showed that this was not O.K, and we should never get used to it. ”

The Facebook page and the private group are open to men. The idea is to include anyone who wants to give evidence about abuse.

“The beauty of movement is its spontaneity and the fact that it doesn't belong to anyone,” said Najma Kousri Labidi, one of the founders of the EnaZeda Facebook page. “It's only about #MeToo but there is more about women being fed up around the world by how access to a male public space is limited. Women in Egypt talked about this issue a year ago, for example. ”

“We also talked about this before Tunisia,” she said. "We conducted awareness campaigns on sexual harassment in public transport, but #EnaZeda after managing the amount that any feminist association could be done by many references and national conflict gather in a short time."

However, it remains an open question as to whether the accounts disclosed by #EnaZeda will result in legal cases, and how much cultural change the movement can create in a generally conservative country.

Adel Dhahri, 34, a policy researcher, provided a message of support in the group.

“EnaZeda and similar initiatives will not have a real impact on sexual harassment unless we start to focus on men, train them and change their behavior,” he said.

Aswat Nissa is planning an exhibition #EnaZeda before Parliament on 13 November, to challenge Mr Makhlouf to take his seat without a court judgment.

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