Título:  TUNISIA: SUBMISSION TO THE UN COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
Índice AI:  MDE30457516
Referencia:  MDE30457516-28268
Editor:  Amnistía Internacional
Autor:  Amnistía Internacional
Fecha publicación:  20160819
Tema principal:  TÚNEZ
Descriptores:  Discriminación · Derechos económicos sociales y culturales · Orientación sexual · Salud · Derechos sexuales · Violencia sexual · Mujeres · Derechos reproductivos
Resumen / Descripción:  Amnistía Internacional presenta este informe a la Comisión de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales de las Naciones Unidas antes del tercer imforme periódico de Túnez. La presentación destaca las preocupaciones específicas de Amnistía Internacional en relación con la discriminación basada en el género, la orientación sexual, identidad de género y las relaciones sexuales consentidas; la violencia sexual y de género y la protección de los derechos sexuales y reproductivos en el país.
Grado de seguridad:  Nivel 1
Subtipo de documentos:  Informe temático
Tipo de documento:  Documentación
Idioma:  Inglés
Enlace:  Norte Africa · Túnez · Mujeres
Texto:      

 TUNISIA  SUBMISSION TO THE UN COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
59TH SESSION, 19 SEPTEMBER – 7 OCTOBER 2016

 Amnesty International is a global movement of more     than 7 million people who campaign for a world    where h
uman rights are enjoyed by all.   Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights    enshrined in the Univ
ersal Declaration of
Human
Rights and  other international human rights standards.   We are independent of any government, political    ideo
logy, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly   by our membership and public donations.

© Amnesty International 2016
Except where otherwise noted, content in this document is licensed under a Creative Commons (attribution, non-com
mercial, no derivatives, international 4.0) licence. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode 
For more information
please
visit the permissions page on our website: www.amnesty.org Where material is attributed to a copyright owner othe
r than Amnesty International this  material is not subject to the Creative Commons licence. First published in 20
16 by Amnesty
International
Ltd
Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW, UK

Index:  MDE 30/4575/2016
Original language: English
amnesty.org

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION                                                     4
ARTICLE 2 – NON-DISCRIMINATION (ISSUE RELATING TO GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE COVENANT)     5
GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND MARITAL RAPE                                         5
LAWS INADEQUATELY PROTECTING VICTIMS OF SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE          6
DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT AND VIOLENCE BASED ON GENDER IDENTITY  AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION                         
                               8
DISCRIMINATION BASED ON CONSENSUAL SEXUAL ACTIVITY                               9
ARTICLE 3 – EQUAL RIGHTS OF MEN AND WOMEN (ISSUE RELATING TO GENERAL  PROVISIONS OF THE COVENANT)                
                           10
ARTICLE 10 – THE RIGHT TO FAMILY PROTECTIONS (ISSUE RELATING TO THE SPECIFIC  PROVISIONS OF THE COVENANT)        
                                   11
ARTICLE 12 – THE RIGHT TO HEALTH (ISSUE RELATING TO THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS  OF THE COVENANT)                    
                              12
INADEQUATE SERVICES AND OBSTACLES TO ACCESS FOR SURVIVORS OF  ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE                          
                          12 ACCESS TO SAFE AND LEGAL ABORTION SERVICES                                     13 RE
COMMENDATIONS
                                   14

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INTRODUCTION

Amnesty International is submitting this briefing in advance of the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, So
cial and Cultural Rights’ (the Committee) review of Tunisia’s third periodic report on the implementation of the 
International Covenant
on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Covenant), during its 59th session from 19 September to 7 October 2016.
 The briefing is not an exhaustive review of the implementation of the Covenant in Tunisia, but highlights Amnest
y International’s
specific
concerns regarding discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and consensual sexual acti
vity; sexual and gender-based violence and the protection of sexual and reproductive rights in the country.1 In p
articular, the
briefing
focuses on Tunisia’s compliance with the Covenant under Article 2: the right to non-discrimination; Article 3: on
 the equal rights of men and women to the rights set out in the Covenant; Article 10: the right to family protect
ions and Article 12:
the
right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Over the years, the Tunisian authorities 
have taken important steps to address discrimination, gender inequality, violence against women and violence agai
nst children. These
include
reforms of the Penal Code and Personal Status Code, adopting a national strategy to combat violence against women
 and enshrining women’s rights in the new Constitution adopted in 2014. The new Constitution was a major breakthr
ough for safeguarding
human
rights and the gains made by the women’s rights movement over the years. It ensures greater protection for women 
and guarantees the principle of equality and non-discrimination. In 2014, Tunisia became the first country in the
 Middle East and
North
Africa to lift all reservations to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CE
DAW), ratified in 1985, even though it maintained a general declaration that it would take no organizational or l
egislative action
required
by CEDAW if it conflicted with Tunisia’s Constitution.2 The Constitution also includes other important safeguards
 that protect the rights of LGBTI people. It guarantees the right to a private life and freedom of expression, th
ought and opinion.
But
despite these guarantees, discrimination against women and girls as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender o
r intersex (LGBTI) people persists in law and practice. Consensual same-sex sexual relations continue to be crimi
nalized and LGBTI
people
remain largely unaccepted by society. Women and girls who are raped are held responsible for their assault and re
jected by their families and communities. Wives who are beaten by their husbands are told to remain in the abusiv
e relationship rather
than
bring “shame” on the family.  Nearly half of Tunisian women (47%) have experienced violence, according to the onl
y national survey on violence against women, conducted by ONFP (National Board for Family and Population) in 2010
, and there are few
signs
that the situation has improved since then.3 Despite high levels of sexual and gender-based violence, investigati
ons and accountability for such crimes lag behind. To address these shortcomings, and improve both protection and
 services for
survivors of
gender-based violence, Tunisia's transitional government announced in August 2014 its plans to draft a comprehens
ive law to combat violence against women and girls. However, after a draft of the law, which included proposals s
uch as repealing
provisions
criminalizing same-sex relations, was leaked to the media, work on the law stalled. The Ministry of Women, Family
 Affairs and Childhood was asked to redraft the law before presenting it to the Council of Minister’s again. In J
uly 2016 the Council
of
Ministers finally approved a revised version of the draft law, which was submitted to Parliament for consideratio
n. The timeline for the adoption of the law is unknown.

1 For a detailed account of Amnesty International’s concerns on these issues, see Amnesty International, Assaulte
d and Accused: Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/2814/2015, November 2015, available 
at:
www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/; See also Amnesty International, 'I am not a monster': State-ent
renched discrimination and homophobia in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/3903/2016, May 2016, available at:
www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/3903/2016/en/  2 See the UN confirmation of receipt of Tunisia’s notification:
 treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CN/2014/CN.220.2014-Eng.pdf  3 See ONFP, Enquête Nationale sur la Violence à l’E
gard des Femmes 2010,
p.
45, available at: www.onfp.nat.tn/violence/e-
book/violence.pdf
TUNISIA SUBMISSION TO THE UN COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS                                   
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The review of Tunisia’s periodic report by the Committee provides an opportunity for the authorities to demonstra
te their determination to implement, without delay, their obligations under the Covenant.
ARTICLE 2 – NON-DISCRIMINATION (ISSUE RELATING TO GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE COVENANT)

Under Article 21 of Tunisia’s Constitution, “[a]ll citizens, male and female, have equal rights and duties, and a
re equal before the law without any discrimination.”4
GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND MARITAL RAPE Spousal and other family violence, particularly against women and girls, i
s so prevalent in Tunisia that it has become normalized. Indeed, the 2010 survey conducted by ONFP showed that vi
olence suffered by
women is
most often inflicted by their intimate partner or another family member. Nearly half of the respondents said that
 they had been subjected to physical violence by their husband, fiancé or boyfriend at least once. One in five wo
men had experienced
psychological violence, while around the same number said they had faced physical violence at home.5  The most co
mmon forms of physical violence recorded by the ONFP study include: being slapped, being pushed and being hit wit
h an object. Other
violence
includes having hair pulled, having one’s arm twisted, being beaten with a belt or a stick, being kicked, having 
one’s head hit against a wall, being threatened with a knife, being strangled, being tied and being burned. Amnes
ty International
documented
accounts of such violence in a report published in November 2015.6 In terms of psychological violence, women repo
rted being forced to leave the house; humiliating and demeaning insults; being locked in the house; being threate
ned with dogs; and
being
forced to accept their husband bringing his lovers to the family home. In the cases recently documented by Amnest
y International, marital rape was closely intertwined with spousal violence. According to the 2010 ONFP study, on
e in six married women
has
been subjected to sexual violence at least once in her life, mostly by her intimate partner. Forms of sexual viol
ence identified included: being “coerced into sexual intercourse”, “forced to perform a sexual act that they disa
pprove of”, and
“forced
into sexual relations after having been beaten”.7  Despite the prevalence of sexual violence, marital rape is not
 explicitly recognized as a crime under Tunisian legislation. Under Article 23 of the Personal Status Code, both 
spouses “must fulfil
their
marital duties according to custom”. This provision is generally understood to mean that sexual relations constit
ute a marital obligation. Article 13 of the Personal Status Code, which prohibits the husband from compelling his
 wife to have sexual
intercourse until he has paid his dowry, implies that, once he has paid, he can have sex with his wife as he plea
ses. The lack of explicit recognition of sexual violence within marriage as a crime violates the rights to equali
ty and sexual autonomy
of
married women and girls. International standards

4 Tunisian Constitution, 2014, Article 21. 5 See ONFP, Enquête nationale à l’égard des femmes en Tunisie, Rapport
 principal, July 2011, available at: www.onfp.nat.tn/violence/e-
book/violence.pdf  6 See Amnesty International, Assaulted and Accused: Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisi
a, AI Index: MDE 30/2814/2015, November 2015, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/  7 S
ee ONFP, Enquête
nationale
à l’égard des femmes en Tunisie, Rapport principal, July 2010, available at: www.onfp.nat.tn/violence/e-
book/violence.pdf. Under international law, rape is defined as any non-consensual act involving penetration, howe
ver slight, of any part of the body of the victim or the perpetrator with any bodily part or an object. Based on 
the above
definition,
“being coerced into sex”, “being forced into sexual relations after having been beaten” and “forced to perform a 
sexual act that they disapprove of” constitute rape as there is a lack of genuine consent to the act. TUNISIA SUB
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ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS                                             5
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require the effective prosecution of any acts of sexual violence, with no exemptions for perpetrators because of 
their marital status.8  Protection measures for survivors are almost non-existent. There are no laws allowing the
 authorities to
issue
orders against offenders, which could protect women from being contacted by the perpetrator and coerced into drop
ping complaints, or from further attacks if accompanied by appropriate police training and awareness of gender-ba
sed violence.
Amnesty
International research shows that many women end up living in a cycle of violence for years, whereby they file a 
complaint with the police or seek help from their family, before forgiving their husband and withdrawing the comp
laint.  When asked in
the
ONFP study why they chose not to report the violence and file a complaint, well over half respondents stated that
 violence was an “ordinary occurrence, which does not deserve to be talked about”, while some 14% said that they 
did not wish to
bring
disgrace to the family.9 Indeed, in the vast majority of cases, women abused by their spouses turn to their famil
ies for help but instead of support, they face pressure to preserve the interest of the family. Many women interv
iewed by Amnesty
International described being asked by their families to be “patient” and were eventually convinced to forgive th
eir husband.

Such discriminatory perceptions are also commonly held by police officers who lack the necessary training to inte
rvene in cases of family violence, which they see as a private matter. There are no specialized police units to d
eal with family and
sexual
violence, and survivors usually file complaints with branches of the National Guard or the judicial police.10 The
 number of women police officers is low, and they tend not to work in the evenings or at night.11 Some women inte
rviewed by Amnesty
International said that police officers either dismissed their reports or blamed them for the violence. In genera
l, the police attempted to discourage them from filing a complaint, convincing them not to break up the family an
d to put the interests
of
children first. Instead of enforcing the law and protecting women from further violence, police see their role as
 promoting mediation and reconciliation.12

In many cases of spousal violence documented by Amnesty International, women reported that the police did not ini
tiate investigations, and alleged corruption and bias in favour of their husbands. In some cases documented by th
e organization, when
women
eventually reported the violence to the court, husbands have threatened to file complaints of adultery or harm on
ce the proceedings are over.
LAWS INADEQUATELY PROTECTING VICTIMS OF SEXUAL AND GENDER-
BASED VIOLENCE Despite some positive amendments to the Penal Code, sexual violence continues to be addressed in t
he framework of crimes against “decency” rather than a violation of an individual’s bodily integrity and sexual a
utonomy. Legislation
continues to reflect discriminatory social attitudes against women and preserve the general interest of the famil
y over the needs of survivors of violence. Further, Tunisian legislation criminalizing rape and sexual assault is
 restrictive, gender
specific and fails to define the act of rape in a manner consistent with international human rights law and stand
ards. Under articles 227bis and 239 of the Penal Code, rapists and abductors of teenage women and girls – aged be
low 20 in the case of
rape
and below 18 in the case of abductions – can escape prosecution by marrying their victim provided that she gives 
her consent. In both cases, marriage between the perpetrator and the victim leads to the termination of proceedin
gs. In the case of
rape,
prosecution resumes if divorce is pronounced at the request of the husband within two years of marriage.

8 In its General Comment No. 19, the CEDAW Committee has found that the definition of discrimination in article 1
 of the CEDAW includes “gender-based violence, that is, violence that is directed against a woman because she is 
a woman or that
affects
women disproportionately” and covers all women, “irrespective of their marital status”. The CEDAW Committee has r
ecommended that states parties should take appropriate and effective measures to overcome all forms of gender-bas
ed violence, whether
by
public or private act; that states parties should ensure that laws against family violence and abuse, rape, sexua
l assault and other gender-based violence give adequate protection to all women, and respect their integrity and 
dignity, and that
effective
complaints procedures and remedies, including compensation, should be provided. 9 See ONFP, Enquête Nationale sur
 la Violence à l’Egard des Femmes en Tunisie 2010, p. 68, available at: www.onfp.nat.tn/violence/e-
book/violence.pdf  10 The judicial police is controlled by the Ministry of Interior but operates within the Minis
try of Justice. 11 Amnesty International meeting with officials at the Ministry of Interior, 24 October 2014. 12 
See Amnesty
International,
“6. Obstacles to Justice”, Assaulted and Accused: sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/2
814/2015, November 2015, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/   TUNISIA SUBMISSION TO T
HE UN COMMITTEE ON
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS                                             6
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Article 227bis of the Penal Code criminalizes the act of subjecting women and girls under the age of 20 to “non-c
onsensual sexual intercourse” without the use of force, but fails to expressly prohibit such acts against boys an
d men. Under
international
law “non-consensual sexual intercourse” is rape regardless of the gender of the victim or the perpetrator. Articl
e 227bis imposes a six-year prison term for the rape of girls under 15 and five years’ imprisonment if the girl i
s older than 15 but
younger
than 20.

Under Article 238, the kidnapping of children, regardless of their gender, is punishable by up to three years’ im
prisonment if they are aged between 13 and 18, and up to five years if they are younger than 13. However, in the 
event a girl is
kidnapped,
under Article 239 all proceedings against the perpetrator are dropped as soon as he marries the victim. These pro
visions, which exempt a rapist or kidnapper from punishment if he subsequently marries the victim, are based on s
ocial attitudes that
focus
on protecting the family’s “honour” rather than the harm done to the victim.

The discriminatory social attitudes underpinning these provisions, which favour protecting “family honour” over t
he rights of women and girls, are reflected also in the response of the Tunisia government to a list of issues an
d questions submitted
to
the CEDAW Committee during Tunisia’s review of its obligations under the Convention. The Tunisian government ackn
owledged that, in cases of family violence and rape of victims below the age of 20, the legislation is intended “
to strike a balance
between
women’s rights and those of the family”. The government further explained that the provision terminating the pros
ecution of rapists or nullifying convictions through marriage is motivated by social considerations whereby it “g
ives precedence to
the
general interest of the family and to the wishes of the victim herself, who for strictly personal and social reas
ons, may prefer such a solution, however advantageous it may be to the assailant, to those generally applied unde
r Tunisian law”.13

In theory, a girl must consent to marriage under the conditions provided for in Articles 227bis and 239, and alwa
ys has the option to refuse if she was raped or kidnapped. However, this measure does not take into account a gir
l’s psychological
state
following the abuse or the pressures she may face from her family or social workers to accept marriage. It also f
ails to consider the lack of support structures, including shelters, for girls who may face rejection from their 
families if they
refuse the
marriage, especially if the rape results in pregnancy, and feel pressured into marriage. Amnesty International is
 concerned that Tunisian law does not adequately reflect the state’s obligation to provide special protection for
 children from
sexual
coercion and violence.14 The Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines every person under the age of 18
 as a child.15 Furthermore, by allowing marriage between a teenage victim and a perpetrator, the law also permits
 early marriages in
contravention of Tunisia’s obligations under international human rights law and standards.16

Further, Tunisian legislation fails to adequately protect women from sexual harassment. Under Article 226(3), sex
ual harassment is punishable with one year in prison and a 3,000 dinar (approximately US$1,537) fine. The sentenc
e is doubled if the
crime
is committed against a child or an individual in a vulnerable position due to “mental or physical deficiency”.17 
The definition of sexual harassment is limited to the perpetrator’s intent to make the victim submit to his or he
r sexual desires
instead of
recognizing the harmful nature of the behaviour in itself. In addition to being inconsistent with international s
tandards, the

13 See CEDAW Committee, Written replies from the Government of Tunisia to the list of issues and questions (CEDAW
/C/TUN/Q/6) with regard to the consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports (CEDAW/C/TUN/5-6), 
CEDAW/C/TUN/Q/6/Add.1,
4-22
October 2010.
14 Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that “1. States Parties shall take all ap
propriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of phy
sical or mental
violence,
injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in t
he care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Such protective measur
es should, as
appropriate,
include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the chil
d and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, 
reporting, referral,
investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropria
te, for judicial involvement”. CRC, Article 19, available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/
CRC.aspx  15
Convention on
the Rights of the Child, Article 1, available at: www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx  16 These 
include: Article 16 (2) of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which stip
ulates that “the
betrothal
and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be
 taken to specify a minimum age for marriage”; Article 23(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
 Rights (ICCPR);
Article 1
and Article 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (C
AT); Article 19 and Article 34 of the CRC. 17 Article 226(3) defines sexual harassment as any persistent behaviou
r which embarrasses
another
person through “the repetition of acts, words or gestures likely to harm that person’s dignity or affect his or h
er decency with the aim of compelling the person to submit to the sexual desires” of the offender or the sexual d
esires of others, “or
by
exerting pressure as to weaken the person’s will to resist such desires”.

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requirement to prove intent by the alleged perpetrators as included in Article 226(3), renders the survivor’s exp
eriences of humiliation and intimidation irrelevant. Further, the legislation fails to recognize sexual harassmen
t as a form of
discrimination persistent in both horizontal and vertical relationships, including in the workplace and in public
 places.
DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT AND VIOLENCE BASED ON GENDER IDENTITY AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION LGBTI people in Tunisia f
ace pervasive discrimination in law and practice, live in constant fear of arrest and prosecution, and are partic
ularly vulnerable to
violence on account of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Same-sex consensual sexual 
relations are criminalized under Article 230 of the Penal Code, which provides for a three-year prison sentence f
or “sodomy and
lesbianism”18. Article 226 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes indecency and acts deemed to be offensive to pub
lic morals, is also used against transgender and gender non-conforming people, providing up to six months’ impris
onment.19 The true
scale of
the application of these articles is unknown. LGBTI organizations report that approximately 60 LGBTI people, most
ly gay men, are arrested every year, mostly based on gender stereotypes, such as their behaviour and appearance, 
and rarely because
they are
caught in the act. In most cases, the length of sentence ranges from six to 18 months in prison, and is sometimes
 reduced on appeal. In one recent case however, a group of six students, who was arrested in the city of Kairouan
 in December 2015
and
accused of engaging in same-sex sexual relations, received the maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment for t
he charge of “sodomy” provided under Article 230 of the Penal Code. The men, were additionally given a five-year 
ban from the city of
Kairouan following their release.20

To obtain “proof” of same-sex sexual activity, gay men are routinely subjected to anal examinations by forensic d
octors after being arrested and upon judges’ orders.21 Although detainees have a right to refuse the examination,
 most men are unaware
of
their rights and feel pressured to agree to the test or are threatened to do so. There is no scientific basis for
 such examinations and they violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment when carried out involunta
rily and involve
penetration and forced anal exams as is the case in Tunisia.22 Amnesty International believes that forced anal ex
aminations contravene medical ethics enshrined in the Geneva Declaration of the World Medical Association and the
 UN Principles of
Medical
Ethics Relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Deta
inees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.23

Amnesty International has also found that the criminalization of same-sex sexual relations fosters violence again
st LGBTI people in Tunisia, and creates a permissive environment for homophobic and transphobic hate crimes as we
ll as harassment and
intimidation by family members and others in the community at every stage of their life.  LGBTI people report hig
h levels of physical attacks and, in some cases, sexual violence. Survivors interviewed by Amnesty International 
in 2015 and 2016
reported
being assaulted in the street and in their homes and workplace, in some cases on multiple occasions by the same i
ndividuals. They said that they were repeatedly beaten with objects, kicked and punched. In some cases, they were
 subjected to
suffocation
attempts and burned with cigarettes. Openly gay and lesbian individuals reported facing constant insults and hara
ssment, and said that they received death threats and threats of harm either in person or through social media.

18 Tunisian Penal Code, 2012, Article 230. 19 Tunisian Penal Code, 2012, Article 226. 20 The men were released on
 bail on 7 January 2016 and their sentence was reduced on appeal on 3 March to the one month in prison they had a
lready served and a
fine of
400 Dinar (USD198). Their ban from Kairouan was overturned. See Amnesty International, 'I am not a monster': Stat
e-entrenched discrimination and homophobia in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/3903/2016, May 2016, available at:
www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/3903/2016/en/ 21 See Amnesty International, “Tunisia: Sentencing of six men fo
r same-sex relations highlights state’s entrenched homophobia”, 14 December 2015, available at:
www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/12/tunisia-sentencing-of-six-men-for-same-sex-relations-highlights-
states-entrenched-homophobia/   22 See Amnesty International, Urgent Action, Tunisia: Student jailed for homosexu
al acts, AI Index: MDE 30/2586/2015, 5 October 2015, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2586/2015/e
n/   23 World
Medical
Association and the UN Principles of Medical Ethics Relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physic
ians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatmen
t or Punishment.
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LGBTI activists and members of LGBTI organizations also report facing constant insults, threats and harassment by
 unknown persons. With no protection from the authorities, over the years many have gone into hiding or left the 
country. Those who
stayed
have received death threats and threats of harm either in person or through social media. Amnesty International h
as also documented harassment of activists working to increase awareness around the prevention of HIV and other s
exually transmitted
infections.24

Despite the high levels of violence, many LGBTI people choose not to report any incidents and attacks they have s
uffered out of fear of arrest and prosecution. Those who do so are often victimized by the police, and in some ca
ses openly threatened
with
arrest.   Moreover, the law makes LGBTI people especially vulnerable to discrimination and violence by the police
, who often exploit their vulnerability to being exposed and stigmatized by blackmailing, extorting a bribe or ev
en sexually abusing
them.25
Gay men are also often forced to pay bribes to escape arrest, even though the police have no proof of same-sex re
lations.   The failure of the authorities to duly investigate and punish homophobic and transphobic hate crimes w
ithout
discrimination
undermines the confidence of LGBTI people in the ability and willingness of the state to protect them. Amnesty In
ternational urges the Tunisian authorities to fulfil their human rights obligations and ensure that a person’s se
xual orientation and
gender
identity are not barriers to realizing Covenant rights.26

DISCRIMINATION BASED ON CONSENSUAL SEXUAL ACTIVITY Other forms of consensual sexual relations between adults are 
criminalized by Tunisian law, including adultery and sex work.  Under Article 236 of the Penal Code, adultery com
mitted by either
spouse is
punishable by a five-year prison term and a 500 Tunisian dinar (approximately US$255) fine. Charges can only be b
rought by the aggrieved spouse, who can terminate proceedings at any time. The same sentence is applied to the ac
complice of either
the
husband or the wife. If adultery is committed in the marital home, the sentence cannot be reduced under mitigatin
g circumstances as provided by Article 53 of the Penal Code.27

While the Penal Code does not discriminate against women with regards to the punishment, in practice, adultery la
ws disproportionately impact women, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, and, in some cases, deter rape victims 
from reporting the
crime
due to fear of being prosecuted if they fail to prove rape.28  Some forms of sex work in Tunisia are legalized an
d regulated by the Ministry of Interior under a decree 29Women who want to work as sex workers must register with
 the Ministry of
Interior.
They issued in 1942.
must work in licensed brothels in specific areas, which they cannot leave without police authorization. They have
 mandatory, bi-weekly medical checks for sexually transmitted infections. They pay taxes and are considered to be
 employees of the
Ministry
of Interior. Under the same regulations, those who wish to leave their jobs must demonstrate their ability to ear
n a living through “honest” means, and obtain authorization from the police, thus creating multiple barriers to t
hose who want to leave
sex
work.

24 Amnesty International, 'I am not a monster': State-entrenched discrimination and homophobia in Tunisia, AI Ind
ex: MDE 30/3903/2016, May 2016, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/3903/2016/en/ 25 See Amnesty Int
ernational, Assaulted
and
Accused: sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/2814/2015, November 2015, available at: ww
w.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/. Also see Amnesty International, 'I am not a monster': State-entre
nched discrimination
and
homophobia in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/3903/2016, May 2016, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/390
3/2016/en/ 26 Sexual orientation and gender identity are recognized as among the prohibited grounds of discrimina
tion, according to
the
CESCR General Comment 20., Non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2, para. 2, of the In
ternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), E/C.12/GC/20, available at: www.refworld.org/docid
/4a60961f2.html  27
See
Amnesty International, Assaulted and Accused: sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/2814/
2015, November 2015, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/ 28 For recently documented ca
ses see Amnesty
International, Assaulted and Accused: sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/2814/2015, No
vember 2015, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/  29 The decree defines a sex worker a
s: “A woman who
offers
herself in return for payment; a woman who keeps company with other prostitutes, a male or female procurer; a wom
an who acts provocatively with obscene gestures while curb crawling; a woman who spends time in the hotels, night
clubs, bars and
theatres; a
woman under the age of 50 who works as part of the cleaning staff in a brothel.” Ministry of Interior Decree issu
ed on 30 April 1942, Réglementation de la prostitution dans la Régence, Journal Officiel Tunisien No. 54, 5 May 1
942. TUNISIA
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Sex work outside these regulations is criminalized under Article 231 of the Penal Code. Women “who, by gestures o
r words, solicit themselves to passers-by or engage in prostitution, even on an occasional basis” face six months
 to two years in
prison in
addition to a fine of up to 200 dinars (approximately US$102). The same punishment is prescribed for their client
s. The stigma and discrimination around sex work make sex workers particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-ba
sed violence. The
criminalization of their activities also makes them vulnerable to abuses by police and prevents them from speakin
g out and seeking judicial remedies, according to Amnesty International’s research. Sex workers working illegally
 are often raped,
extorted
and sexually harassed by the police. Some sex workers are afraid to report this abuse for fear that they might be
 prosecuted or exposed to family members as a sex worker. In many instances, police question and arrest women on 
suspicion of sex
work
merely on the basis of their appearance or their past history rather than observed illegal activity. Amnesty Inte
rnational research has also found that the police arrest or threaten to arrest suspected sex workers on the basis
 that they have
condoms.30

ARTICLE 3 – EQUAL RIGHTS OF MEN AND WOMEN (ISSUE RELATING TO GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE COVENANT)

Article 46 of the Tunisian Constitution provides that “the state commits to protect women’s established rights an
d works to strengthen and develop those rights,” and guarantees “equality of opportunities between women and men 
to have access to
all
levels of responsibility and in all domains.”31

Women and men have equal rights when it comes to marriage, divorce and property ownership. Men can no longer divo
rce their wives without going to court. Thanks to the efforts of women’s rights groups in the country and amendme
nts to the Personal
Status
Code in 1993, wives are no longer required to “obey” their husbands. But although Tunisia has one of the most pro
gressive personal status laws in the Middle East and North Africa, the Personal Status Code still contains discri
minatory provisions.
Husbands are still considered to be the head of the family and must provide for their wives and children as best 
they can, and under Article 23 of the Personal Status Code, both spouses “must fulfil their marital duties accord
ing to custom” and
tradition. Women continue to also face discrimination in relation to child custody and inheritance under the Pers
onal Status Code.  In its General Comment No. 16, the CESCR stressed that equality between men and women also req
uires “addressing
gender-based social and cultural prejudices, providing for equality in the allocation of resources, and promoting
 the sharing of responsibilities in the family, community and public life.”32 However, a recent government study 
found that women
spend
eight times more time than men performing household chores, including caring for children and the elderly.33

Tunisia is one of the few members of the African Union that did not sign, let alone ratify, the Protocol to the A
frican Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), which further art
iculates women’s
rights, in
addition to CEDAW. Amnesty International urges the Tunisian

30 See Amnesty International, Assaulted and Accused: sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 3
0/2814/2015, November 2015, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/ 31 Tunisian Constituti
on, Article 46. 32
CESCR
Committee, General Comment No. 16, The equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and 
cultural rights (art. 3 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), E/C.12/2005/4, av
ailable at:
www.refworld.org/docid/43f3067ae.html  33 See Ministry of Women, Family Affairs and Childhood, Budget temps des f
emmes et des hommes en Tunisie, 2011, available at:
www.femme.gov.tn/index.php?id=7&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=836&cHash=f05d085b99175fe16be05c0630636dc1  TUNISIA SUBMISSION
 TO THE UN COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS                                             10
Amnesty International

authorities to urgently sign and ratify the Maputo protocol to guarantee the equal rights of women with men to en
joy all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the Covenant.
ARTICLE 10 – THE RIGHT TO FAMILY PROTECTIONS (ISSUE RELATING TO THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THE COVENANT)

The Tunisian Constitution refers to the family as “the nucleus of society” and requires the state to protect it,3
4 in line with the Article 10 of the ICESCR. Furthermore, the Tunisian Constitution explicitly also safeguards ch
ildren’s rights, by
granting children “the rights to dignity, health, care and education from their parents and the state”35. It also
 stresses that “[t]he state must provide all types of protection to all children without discrimination and in ac
cordance with their
best
interest.”36  Tunisia has specific laws to protect children from harm and to instil procedures to ensure the best
 interests of children. Following ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, Tunisi
a adopted the Child
Protection Code in 1995. This incorporates the principle of the best interest of the child in line with the CRC a
nd establishes specific mechanisms for the administration of juvenile justice, such as the creation of specialize
d children’s courts
and
appointment of child protection delegates who can intervene when a child may be in danger.37

Although Tunisian law is strong on child protection, Amnesty International is concerned that the implementation o
f the law remains a problem. In 2010, the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at Tunisia’s fai
lure to monitor the
quality
and efficiency of the juvenile justice system and to guarantee full implementation of all provisions at all stage
s of the criminal justice process. It further expressed concern at the lack of adequate co-ordination between var
ious stakeholders
involved
in child 38Indeed, child protection delegates appear to be under-resourced, so they cannot follow up protection.
adequately on the large number of cases. The workload of child protection delegates also means that there is a la
ck of co-ordination between their work and the courts, particularly in investigating crimes against children and 
in implementing
necessary
follow-up care and services. Further, Amnesty International is concerned about the lack of sufficient protection 
and adequate services for child victims of violence and sexual abuse and that referral to psychological care is n
ot automatic, but
depends
on the judge’s discretion or a request by the child’s family. Due to stigma attached to psychological treatment, 
families rarely make such requests. In cases where a girl who is a victim of rape marries her rapist, the child p
rotection delegate is
no
longer able to intervene or push for continuing support or medical care as the girl is legally considered an adul
t upon marriage. Amnesty International urges the Tunisian authorities to end impunity of the perpetrators of sexu
al violence against
children and provide adequate protection measures and improve existing services to child victims of abuse and sex
ual violence.

34 Tunisian Constitution, Article 7. 35 Tunisian Constitution, Article 47. 36 Tunisian Constitution, Article 47. 
37 In November 2015, Amnesty International documented that there are 24 offices of child protection delegates acr
oss the country (one
in
every governorate). Child protection delegates have a mandate to receive reports on “children in danger”. They as
sess the danger, determine the real needs of the child in danger and set priorities for the development of an ind
ividualized
intervention
plan to end the danger. 38 See Committee on the Rights of the Child Fifty-fourth session, Consideration of report
s submitted by States parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding observations of the Committee on the
 Rights of the
Child:
Tunisia, CRC/C/TUN/CO/3, 16 June 2010.

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ARTICLE 12 – THE RIGHT TO HEALTH (ISSUE RELATING TO THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THE COVENANT)

The Tunisian Constitution guarantees the right to health for every person.39 It requires the state to ensure “pre
ventative treatment and health care for every citizen and provide the necessary means to guarantee the safety and
 quality of health
services”. Furthermore, it obliges authorities to provide “those without means and those with limited income” wit
h free health care.
However, existing social and health services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence are limited and in
adequate. Among other necessary aspects of care, survivors of rape face particular difficulties accessing pregnan
cy prevention and
psychological support. In addition, lack of protection mechanisms, including shelters for women and girl survivor
s of violence, leaves survivors vulnerable to further abuse.
INADEQUATE SERVICES AND OBSTACLES TO ACCESS FOR SURVIVORS OF ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE In order to establish proo
f of sexual or gender-based violence, survivors are required to obtain a medical certificate known as the CMI (ce
rtificat médical
initial).
The CMI, which is a forensic medical report, can only be obtained from a public institution, and must be requeste
d by a police officer, judge or local authority representative such as a mayor or governor.  Survivors of sexual 
and gender-based
violence
are required to first report the crime to the police or a prosecutor, after which they are referred for medical e
xamination, which can be carried out by a forensic doctor, a gynaecologist or an accident and emergency doctor. F
orensic doctors are
unable
to examine a victim without a referral. Such a requirement is especially problematic in cases of sexual violence 
as it leads to delays, which can result in the loss of evidence. Further, forensic doctors are unable to provide 
medical treatment,
which
means that survivors often undergo multiple medical examinations, which not only violates their right to health b
ut also leads to further physical and mental trauma. When examining women, forensic doctors are often required to
 assess whether the
survivor is a virgin, if she is accustomed to sexual intercourse, and the types of physical wounds suffered. Such
 tests constitute a breach of women and girls’ rights to health, privacy and non-discrimination, as well as their
 right to be free
from
torture or other ill-treatment.40 Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) has clearly stated that virginity 
testing has no scientific validity and should not be used under any circumstance during the medical examination o
f victims of sexual
assault. Amnesty International believes that such tests violate women and girls human rights, and can lead to fur
ther stigmatization of survivors.41

In March 2016, the Ministry of Health opened the first emergency medico-legal centre for victims of sexual and ge
nder-based violence in Tunisia at Charles Nicolle Hospital in Tunis. While this is clearly a welcome move, the Tu
nisian authorities
have yet
to establish comprehensive and integrated support services to provide survivors of sexual and gender-based violen
ce with timely access to health care across the country. Referral pathways are almost non-existent. In general, m
edico-legal centres,
usually the first point of contact for survivors with a medical professional, do not provide emergency contracept
ion in cases of sexual

39 Tunisian Constitution, Article 38. 40 In January 2016 the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, urged
 states to prohibit virginity testing in all circumstances, and effectively monitor and regulate practices by pub
lic and private actors
in
health-care and educational settings to ensure the eradication of prohibited practices including compulsory medic
al examinations such as forced pregnancy and virginity testing, as well as investigate, prosecute and punish perp
etrators. See pages 20
and
22, A/HRC/31/57, January 2016. Available at: documents-dds-
ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/000/97/PDF/G1600097.pdf?OpenElement  41 See Amnesty International, Assaulted and Accu
sed: sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/2814/2015, November 2015, available at:
www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/ TUNISIA SUBMISSION TO THE UN COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND C
ULTURAL RIGHTS                                             12
Amnesty International

violence. Testing for sexually transmitted infections is not available, women are not systematically referred to 
gynaecologists and no psycho-social support is available. To date, the ONFP centre in Ben Arous is the only state
 body that specializes
in
providing psychological support to women survivors of violence. As a result, provision of such support falls larg
ely to civil society organizations that run counselling and support centres. Health institutions, including depar
tments that perform
the
initial examination for the purpose of the medical certificate, rarely refer survivors to mental health practitio
ners, social services or legal aid organizations. Providing information about survivors’ rights remains at the di
scretion of the
examining
doctor.

The police do not provide survivors of violence with any information on support services. Both the Ministry of Wo
men, Family Affairs and Childhood and the Ministry of Social Affairs have local representatives in every governor
ate who can provide
such
information, but their offices are under-resourced and usually do not intervene in individual cases. As a result,
 many survivors of violence only receive adequate support once they are referred to specialized counselling centr
es run by civil
society
organizations. However, in many cases, it takes months before they are referred to such centres. Additionally, th
ese centres are only available in major cities.
ACCESS TO SAFE AND LEGAL ABORTION SERVICES Since 1973 Tunisian women have had the right to terminate unwanted pre
gnancies before completion of the first trimester of pregnancy,42 and abortions are available at ONFP clinics acr
oss the country.
Although
all women have equal rights to abortion whether they are single, married or divorced, use of such services is fac
ing increasing social stigmatization. Evidence suggests that unmarried women are often refused abortions under th
e false pretext that
the
father’s consent is required. Some married women and sex workers have also reported being dissuaded from terminat
ing pregnancies, with staff in public clinics either claiming abortion is immoral or deliberately delaying the ab
ortion until it is too
late
to perform it.43 The refusal to provide safe and legal abortion services is illegal and a violation of Tunisian a
nd international law. Such discriminatory attitudes can have adverse consequences on survivors of rape who wish t
o terminate unwanted
pregnancies but may have chosen not to report the crime.

42 In 1965, Tunisia became the first Muslim country to legalize abortion on demand during the first three months 
of pregnancy for women with five or more children. See Human Rights Council, Twenty-third session, Report of the 
Working Group on the
issue
of discrimination against women in law and in practice, Mission to Tunisia, 30 May 2013, A/HRC/23/50/Add.2, avail
able at: www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A.HRC.23.50.Add.2_A
43 Amnesty International, “Is Tunisia the beacon of women’s’ rights it claims to be?”, 15 January 2016, available
 at: www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2016/01/is-tunisia-the-beacon-of-womens-rights-it-claims-to-be/. Also se
e Amnesty
International,
Assaulted and Accused: sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia, AI Index: MDE 30/2814/2015, November 2015, av
ailable at: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2814/2015/en/  TUNISIA SUBMISSION TO THE UN COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC,
 SOCIAL AND CULTURAL
RIGHTS
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Amnesty International

RECOMMENDATIONS

Amnesty International urges the Tunisian authorities to:

End discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and consensual sexual activity in law and in practice, and
 bring legislation in line with international human rights law and standards ·   Sign, ratify and implement the M
aputo Protocol; ·
Ensure
that Tunisian law is consistent with its international legal obligations, is non-discriminatory and prohibits all
 forms of violence based on gender and sexual orientation, including against women and girls, sex workers and LGB
TI people; ·   Adopt
a
comprehensive law on violence against women and girls that includes the provision of a wide range of remedies, in
cluding protection orders, appropriate penalties, and orders for compensation of victims of violence; ·   Define 
rape and sexual
assault as
a violation of an individual’s bodily integrity and sexual autonomy rather than an assault on “decency”. Make law
s on rape or sexual assault gender-neutral and premised on the absence of consent rather than use of force or vio
lence. The laws
should
explicitly recognize marital rape as a crime and be consistent with international human rights law and standards;
 ·   Repeal provisions under Articles 227bis and 239 of the Penal Code whereby a rapist or kidnapper respectively
 can escape
prosecution by
marrying the victim; ·   Repeal Article 230 of the Penal Code criminalizing consensual same-sex activity and Arti
cle 236 criminalizing adultery; ·   Publicly condemn all forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women,
 girls and LGBTI
people,
whether committed by state or non-state actors in the home, the community or public sphere; ·   Immediately stop 
the use of forced anal examinations against people accused of same-sex sexual relations as a means to obtain “pro
of” of anal sex;

·   Immediately and unconditionally release anyone detained because of their actual or perceived sexual orientati
on or gender identity; ·   Ensure that laws and regulations related to sex work are developed in consultation wit
h sex workers, respect
the
agency of sex workers, and guarantee that individuals who undertake sex work do so voluntarily and in safe condit
ions, free from exploitation, and are able to stop engaging in sex work when and if they choose. In particular, r
egulations requiring
registered sex workers to demonstrate capacity to make an “honest” living should be repealed on the basis that th
ey are discriminatory and place unreasonable requirements on those wishing to leave sex work; Ensure that survivo
rs of sexual and
gender-based violence have access to safe and timely avenues to report the crime  ·   Ensure that law enforcement
 officers are trained (as part of their basic training and as ongoing professional training) in gender-sensitive,
 best practice methods
of
interviewing and supporting victims who have been subjected to family and sexual violence; ·   Designate or stren
gthen specialized police units on family and sexual violence, and ensure that they have adequate funding for thei
r work and
specialized
training for their staff; ·   Ensure that the police and other law enforcement officers do not intimidate, threat
en or humiliate victims of family and sexual violence, either when people file their complaint or during the subs
equent investigation.
The
police should immediately ascertain if the complainant is at risk of further violence and, if so, ensure that the
 victim receives appropriate protection;
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·   Ensure that all complaints of sexual and gender-based violence are taken seriously by the authorities, and ar
e promptly and independently investigated without discrimination, including complaints of violence against LGBTI 
people and sex
workers;
Improve protection measures and existing services, guarantee the right to health, non- discrimination and privacy
, and provide reparations for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence ·   Allocate adequate state funding f
or the provision of
social
services and medical care to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence; ·   Adopt policies and procedures to 
ensure appropriate medical, psychosocial, economic and legal support to survivors; ·   Ensure that female survivo
rs of sexual violence
have
access to comprehensive and appropriate medical care, and that they are immediately provided with emergency contr
aception, HIV PEP (post-
exposure prophylaxis), gynaecological care for injuries sustained in the assault, general medical care for other 
injuries, and initial psychological support. Also ensure that comprehensive medical treatment is available for ma
le survivors of
sexual
violence; ·   Prohibit “virginity tests”, including during medical examinations of survivors of sexual assault;

·   Ensure that survivors of sexual and gender-based violence are systematically given information about psycho-s
ocial support, legal aid and judicial remedies at health facilities and police stations, and that they are referr
ed to such services
when
needed and in accordance with their wishes;

·   Ensure that survivors pursuing redress through the justice system are provided with information on the status
 of their case; legal aid and advice services; access to civil remedies and protective measures; information on a
vailable support; and
how
to obtain compensation and other reparations; ·   In consultation with civil society, create additional mechanism
s to provide safe accommodation for survivors and ensure that funds are allocated by the state to ensure the cont
inuity of their
operations;
·   Make available a nationwide telephone helpline that is accessible 24 hours a day to women and girls seeking a
ssistance, and ensure that staff are adequately trained to provide information and assistance to survivors of sex
ual and gender-based
violence; ·   Ensure that free abortion services are available to all women without discrimination as legally sti
pulated, and combat discrimination among staff in ONFP centres by carrying out training and awareness-raising ses
sions; ·   Ensure
that
survivors of gender-based violence – including marital rape and violence perpetrated against women protesters – r
eceive adequate reparations, and guarantee their right to all necessary medical and psychological treatment.

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Amnesty International

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MATTERS TO US ALL.

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