Título:  ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED: SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN TUNISIA - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Índice AI:  MDE30282715
Referencia:  MDE30282715-26919
Editor:  Amnistía Internacional
Autor:  Amnistía Internacional
Fecha publicación:  20151125
Tema principal:  TÚNEZ
Descriptores:  Orientación sexual · Mujeres · Derechos sexuales · Derechos reproductivos · Agresión sexual · Violencia contra las mujeres
Resumen / Descripción:  En septiembre de 2012, una mujer conocida como Meriem Ben Mohamed fue acusada de "indecencia" después de denunciar haber sido violada por dos policías. Al denunciar esto, Meriem arrojó luz sobre las profundas fallas en la legislación tunecina y desató una campaña para exigir el cambio legal y protección a las víctimas de violencia sexual y de género. "Violada y acusada" se ha convertido en una frase que pone de relieve los prejuicios arraigados y la discriminación contra las víctimas de violencia sexual y de género que, como Meriem, a menudo son victimizadas y consideradas responsables de los delitos que han sufrido.
Grado de seguridad:  Nivel 1
Subtipo de documentos:  Informe temático
Tipo de documento:  Documentación
Idioma:  Inglés
Enlace:  Norte Africa · Túnez · Mujeres
Texto:      

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED
SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN TUNISIA

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rig
hts are enjoyed by all. Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declara
tion of Human Rights and
other international human rights standards.

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our membership and public donations.

First published in 2015 by
Amnesty International Ltd
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London WC1X 0DW
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© Amnesty International 2015

Index: MDE 30/2827/2015
Original language: English
Printed by Amnesty International,
International Secretariat, United Kingdom

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Cover photo: Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration CICKPUVEJCTIGUQHKPFGEGPE[VJCVYGTG?NGFCICKPUVC
YQOCPTCRGFD[VYQRQNKEGQH?EGTU6WPKU1EVQDGT
© REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi amnesty.org

                                              EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED: SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASE
D VIOLENCE IN TUNISIA
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  In September 2012, a woman known as Meriem Ben Mohamed was charged with pKPFGEGPE[qCHVGTUJGTGR
QTVGFTCRGD[VYQRQNKEGQHHKEGTU$[URGCMKPIQWV/GTKGOUJGF
light on the deep flaws in Tunisian legislation and sparked a campaign demanding legal change and protection to s
urvivors of sexual and gender-based violence. p4CRGFand CEEWUGFqDGECOGCRJTCUGthat highlighted the entrenched prej
udices and
discrimination against survivors of sexual and gender-based violence who, like Meriem, are often victimized and h
eld responsible for the crimes they have suffered.  All too often, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence 
in Tunisia are blamed and
punished for the crime they have suffered. A woman who is raped is held responsible for her assault and rejected 
by her family and community. A wife who is beaten by her husband is
VQNFVQTGOCKPKPVJGCDWUKXGTGNCVKQPUJKRTCVJGTVJCPDTKPIpUJCOGqQPVJGHCOKN[#IC[OCP
who is attacked is more likely to be prosecuted than his attacker. A sex worker working illegally is abused and b
lackmailed by the police. Tunisian law fails to protect those most in need of protection. It allows rapists of wo
men aged under 20 to escape
punishment if they marry their victim. It fails to recognize marital rape; indeed, it implies thCVCYQOCPoUOCTKVCN
FWV[KUVQJCXGUGZWCNTGNCVKQPUYKVJJGTJWUDCPF
whenever he pleases. It criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations, making it virtually impossible for les
bian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people to lodge complaints about sexual assaults and paving
 the way for blackmail and
other abuses by police. Such social attitudes and failings by the state are particularly harmful in a country whe
re sexual and gender-based violence remains prevalent. Nearly one in two women (47%) has experienced violence. Of
 these, around one in six
has suffered sexual violence. These figures emerged from the first national survey of such issues, conducted in 2
010 by the Office National de la Famille et de la Population (ONFP s National Board for Family and Population).  
The true scale of sexual
violence is unknown as it is under-reported. Many survivors do not come forward out of fear of being accused of c
omplicity in the crime and publicly shamed. As a result, many suffer in silence. When the crimes go unreported, t
he perpetrators are
emboldened to repeat abuses and impunity is entrenched. #EEQTFKPIVQYQOGPoUTKIJVU
defenders, media reporting of violence against women is often sensationalist and contributes to the stigmatizatio
n of survivors.  Over the years, the Tunisian authorities have taken important steps to promote gender equality a
nd combat gender-based and
sexual violence, including by amending legislation. Despite this, the law continues to reflect discriminatory soc
ial attitudes against women and preserve the general interest of the family over the needs of survivors of violen
ce.  Articles in the Penal
Code criminalizing sexual violence are in a section dealing with assault QPCRGTUQPoUFGEGPE[, thus emphasizKPIpJQP
QWTq CPFpOQTCNKV[q. Rape and sexual assault Index: MDE 30/2827/2015                 Amnesty International Novembe
r 2015

2 2    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED: SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN TUNISIA of women and girls ar
e UGGPCUCEVUVJCVWPFGTOKPGVJGHCOKN[oUTGRWVCVKQPTCVJGTVJCPC
XKQNCVKQPQHVJGXKEVKOUoDQFKN[KPVGITKV[

Other laws and policies fail adequately to protect survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. The Penal Code 
does not define clearly what constitutes an act of rape, although provides for the death penalty
YJGPpPQP-EQPUGPUWCNUGZWCNTGNCVKQPUqCTGEQOOKVVGFpYKVJ
XKQNGPEGq. This fails to capture the reality that, in many cases, rape should be defined by lack of consent and i
s often committed without the use of force.  Family violence is commonly accepted in Tunisia despite being recogn
ized as a crime. Complaints
of assault are often withdrawn because of pressure from the perpetrator or family members, or because of the perc
eived pFKUJQPQWTqKVOKIJVDTKPIQPVJGXKEVKO. The law does not provide adequate protection against victims being pres
sured or coerced into
dropping complaints. For instance, a complainant cannot apply for a protection order that could stop a perpetrato
r contacting the victim.  Police officers lack the necessary training to intervene in cases of family violence, w
hich is seen as a private
and intimate issue. There are no specialized police units to deal with family and sexual violence, and the number
 of women police officers is low. Police officers often dismiss reports of marital violence filed by women, or bl
ame them for the violence.
In many instances, instead of enforcing the law and protecting women from further violence, police see their role
 as promoting mediation and reconciliation to preserve the family unit.  Few survivors of family violence pursue 
judicial remedies, mainly
because they are not financially independent or because they are pressed by their own families to forgive their h
usbands. The lack of sufficient emergency housing and shelters for victims of family violence also prevents survi
vors from seeking justice
as they have nowhere safe to go.  Many of the women who complain about family violence do so in the context of fi
ghting for divorce on the basis of harm suffered, usually after enduring years of violence and humiliation. While
 family violence is
accepted as grounds for divorce, the burden of proof falls on survivors and the judicial police (the investigativ
e arm of the security forces) has no units [or officers] specialized in investigating such cases. In general, the
 judge ruling on
FKXQTEGECUGUQPN[CEEGRVUCRGPCNEQPXKEVKQPQTVJGCEEWUGFoUEQPHGUUKQPCUGXKFGPEGQH
harm. As a result, such divorce procedures are lengthy, costly and complicated. Existing social and health servic
es for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence remain limited and inadequate, mainly due to a lack of finan
cial resources. Such
services are largely supported by the international community and led by civil society organizations.  In cases o
f sexual violence, medical treatment is often separate from the collection of evidence, and referral pathways are
 almost non-existent.
Medico-legal centres, which are often the first point of contact with a medical professional, do not provide emer
gency contraception in cases of sexual violence. No testing for sexually transmitted infections is available on t
he spot, survivors are not
systematically referred to gynaecologists, and no psycho-social support is available.  The criminalization of som
e forms of consensual sexual relations between adults places Amnesty International November 2015           Index:
 MDE 30/2827/2015

                                              EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   3 ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED: SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASE
D VIOLENCE IN TUNISIA

additional constraints on survivors of sexual and gender-based violence who want to seek justice. Adultery laws a
re sometimes misused to blackmail victims and dissuade them from reporting the crime. The adultery laws also impa
ct disproportionately on
women, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and deter some rape victims from reporting the crime because they fea
r prosecution if they fail to prove rape. Criminalization of consensual same-sex relations discriminates against 
LGBTI people and fuels
violence against them. Perhaps the most vulnerable group are sex workers, who rarely report crimes against them b
ecause their work is illegal.  Sex workers and LGBTI people report high levels of extortion, physical assaults an
d sexual abuse by state
agents, especially the police. Homophobic and transphobic crimes are not investigated. Police often tell LGBTI su
rvivors to drop their complaints if they want to avoid being prosecuted themselves for engaging in same-sex sexua
l relations.  In August
2014, 6WPKUKCoU transitional government announced that it was drafting a comprehensive law to combat violence aga
inst women, with the help of a committee of experts that included 6WPKUKCPYQOGPoUTKIJVUdefenders. Among other thi
ngs, the draft proposed
to repeal provisions criminalizing consensual sexual relations, including same-sex relations, between adults; and
 introduce laws criminalizing clients, procurers and operational aspects of sex work. Meanwhile, senior governmen
t officials promised to
repeal legal provisions giving impunity to rapists who marry their victim, increase penalties for sexual harassme
nt against women at work, and improve access to legal aid and health services for survivors of violence. However,
 work on the draft law
appears to have stalled since the formation of a coalition government in January 2015. The authorities seem to be
 prioritizing security issues, especially following the deadly attacks at the Bardo Museum in Tunis and at a beac
h resort in Sousse that
killed 61 people. In a meeting with Amnesty International in March 2015, the Minister of Women, Family Affairs an
d Childhood said that the proposed, bold legislative reforms would require greater social awareness. The draft la
w has yet to be agreed by
the new government and discussed by parliament.  Amnesty International welcomes steps taken by the Tunisian autho
rities to comply with the recommendation repeated over several years by the Committee on the UN Convention on the
 Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) that Tunisia adopts a comprehensive law on violence against women. Amnest
y International stresses that adopting legislative reform in line with international human rights standards would
 go a long way to address
the gaps that hinder survivors of sexual and gender-based violence obtaining redress. Importantly, it would encou
rage survivors to come forward and report crimes, and ultimately would help combat impunity.  Amnesty Internation
al is publishing this
report with the aim of supporting efforts by Tunisian civil society to combat sexual and gender-based violence. B
ased on 40 interviews with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in particular rape (including marital ra
pe), domestic violence and
sexual harassment, in addition to meetings with medical professionals, YQOGPoUTKIJVUFGHGPFGTUCPFUQEKCNYQTMGTUVJK
UTGRQTVKUECNNKPIQPVJGCWVJQTKVKGUVQ
address such violence by taking three key measures among other recommendations included Index: MDE 30/2827/2015  
               Amnesty International November 2015

4 4    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED: SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN TUNISIA at the end of the rep
ort:  ?   publicly condemn all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including violence based on gender iden
tity and sexual
orientation; ?   end discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and consensual adult sexual activity in l
aw and in practice, and introduce legislation criminalizing sexual and gender-based violence in line with interna
tional human rights law and
standards;  ?   ensure effective, independent and impartial investigations into all forms of sexual and gender-ba
sed violence, including against women and girls, LGBTI people and other vulnerable people such as sex worke

Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2827/2015

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ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED
SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN TUNISIA A woman is raped and blamed for her assault. A wife is relentlessly b
eaten at home and told to bear it. A gay man is attacked and is more likely to be prosecuted than his attacker. A
 sex worker working
illegally is abused and blackmailed by the police. All too often survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in
 Tunisia are blamed and punished for the crimes they have suffered.  Despite many positive steps by Tunisia to pr
omote gender equality and
combat sexual and gender-based violence, the law fails to protect survivors. It allows rapists to dodge punishmen
t KHVJG[OCTT[VJGKTVGGPCIGXKEVKO+VHCKNUVQENGCTN[FG?PGTCRG
or recognize marital rape. It criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations and adultery, deterring survivors
 from speaking out for fear of prosecution. This report, which includes interviews with dozens of survivors, high
lights how the blame
culture and legal failings are particularly harmful in a country where sexual and gender-
based violence remains prevalent. It also shows that survivors face inadequate support and numerous obstacles if 
they dare to seek justice. Amnesty International calls on the Tunisian authorities to take urgent action to prote
ct survivors by amending
the law, ensuring effective remedies and providing comprehensive health and social services.

November 2015 Index: MDE 30/2827/2015
amnesty.org