═ndice AI:  MDE30281415
Referencia:  MDE30281415-26918
Editor:  AmnistÝa Internacional
Autor:  AmnistÝa Internacional
Fecha publicaciˇn:  20151125
Tema principal:  T┌NEZ
Descriptores:  Orientaciˇn sexual Ě Mujeres Ě Derechos sexuales Ě Derechos reproductivos Ě Agresiˇn sexual Ě Violencia contra las mujeres
Resumen / Descripciˇn:  En septiembre de 2012, una mujer conocida como Meriem Ben Mohamed fue acusada de "indecencia" despuÚs de denunciar haber sido violada por dos policÝas. Al denunciar esto, Meriem arrojˇ luz sobre las profundas fallas en la legislaciˇn tunecina y desatˇ una campa˝a para exigir el cambio legal y protecciˇn a las vÝctimas de violencia sexual y de gÚnero. "Violada y acusada" se ha convertido en una frase que pone de relieve los prejuicios arraigados y la discriminaciˇn contra las vÝctimas de violencia sexual y de gÚnero 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 temßtico
Tipo de documento:  Documentaciˇn
Idioma:  InglÚs
Enlace:  Norte Africa Ě T˙nez Ě Mujeres


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.

We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by 
our membership and public donations.

First published in 2015 by
Amnesty International Ltd
Peter Benenson House
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
United Kingdom

ę Amnesty International 2015

Index: MDE 30/2814/2015 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
ę REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi amnesty.org

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...............................................................................................
.. 4

Abbreviations and glossary ......................................................................................
....... 8

1. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................
.... 10

 Scale of abuse .................................................................................................
........ 10

 Background .....................................................................................................
........ 12

 Methodology ....................................................................................................
....... 14

2. FAMILY VIOLENCE AND MARITAL RAPE .................................................................. 17

 Family and social pressure .....................................................................................
... 18

 Fighting for divorce ...........................................................................................
....... 19

 Lack of awareness of rights ....................................................................................
... 22

 Marital rape ...................................................................................................
......... 23

 Flawed trial proceedings .......................................................................................
.... 25

3. SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST YOUNG WOMEN AND CHILDREN ................................. 27

 Child protection ...............................................................................................
........ 30

 Lengthy trial procedures .......................................................................................
.... 31

4. VIOLENCE AGAINST LGBTI PEOPLE ........................................................................ 34

 Hate crimes ....................................................................................................
........ 35

 Arrests without evidence .......................................................................................
.... 36

 StatGoUHCKNWTGVQRTQVGEV ........................................................................................
... 38

 Abuses by police................................................................................................
...... 41

 Constraints on activists .......................................................................................
..... 42

5. PLIGHT OF SEX WORKERS ..................................................................................... 44

 Vulnerability to abuse .........................................................................................
..... 45

 LGBTI sex workers ..............................................................................................
..... 47

 Criminalization of consensual sex work ...................................................................... 48

6. OBSTACLES TO JUSTICE ........................................................................................ 

 Under-reporting of violence ....................................................................................
.. 51

 Inadequate laws ................................................................................................
...... 53

 Evidentiary challenges .........................................................................................
.... 57

 Distrust of the criminal justice system ....................................................................... 

7. INADEQUATE SERVICES FOR SURVIVORS............................................................... 62

 Health and support services ....................................................................................
. 62

 Access to abortion .............................................................................................
...... 64

 Shelters and emergency accommodation ................................................................... 65


 The Constitution ...............................................................................................
...... 68

 Laws on violence against women ............................................................................... 6

 National Strategy to combat violence against women .................................................. 71

670+5+#o5+06'40#6+10#.*7/#04+)*651$.+)#6+105 ................................... 73

 Gender equality and non-discrimination ..................................................................... 73

 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ................ 73

 Sexual orientation and gender identity ....................................................................... 7

 Sexual violence and the prohibition of torture ............................................................. 75

 Due diligence ..................................................................................................
....... 76

10. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS .............................................................. 77

4 4    ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  In September 2012, a woman known as Meriem Ben Mohamed was charged with pKPFGEGPE[qCHVGTUJGTGR
QTVGFTCRGD[VYQRQNKEGQHHKEGTU$[URGCMKPIQWV/GTKGO shed light on the deep flaws in Tunisian legislation and sparke
d a campaign
demanding legal change and protection to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. p4CRGFand CEEWUGFqDGECOGC
RJTCUGthat highlighted the entrenched prejudices and discrimination against survivors of sexual and gender-based 
violence who, like
Meriem, are often victimized and held 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 wh
o is raped is held
responsible for her assault and rejected by her family and community. A wife who is beaten by her husband is VQNF
than his attacker. A sex worker working illegally is abused and blackmailed by the police. Tunisian law fails to 
protect those most in need of protection. It allows rapists of women aged under 20 to escape punishment if they m
arry their victim. It fails
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 Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  5 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia 

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
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 pFKUJQPQWTqKV might bring on the victim. The law does not provide adequate protection against victims being
 pressured 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
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 Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty Inte
rnational November 2015

6 6    ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based 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
address such violence by taking three key measures among other recommendations included Amnesty International Nov
ember 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  7 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia 
at the end of the report:  ?   publicly condemn all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including violence
 based on gender identity
and sexual orientation; ?   end discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and consensual adult sexual ac
tivity in law and in practice, and introduce legislation criminalizing sexual and gender-based violence in line w
ith international human
rights law and standards;  ?   ensure effective, independent and impartial investigations into all forms of sexua
l and gender-based violence, including against women and girls, LGBTI people and other vulnerable people such as 
sex workers. Index: MDE
30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

8 8    ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

ABBREVIATIONS AND GLOSSARY  bisexual: A bisexual person is defined as a person who is attracted to and/or has sex
 with both men and women. It can also refer to a cultural identity.  CEDAW: UN Convention on the Elimination of A
ll Forms of Discrimination
against Women CMI: certificat mÚdical initial (initial medial certificate) CRC: UN Convention on the Rights of th
emotionally attracted to people of the same sex. It can refer to same-sex sexual attraction, same-sex sexual beha
viour, and same-UGZEWNVWTCNKFGPVKV[p)C[qKUPQVIGPFGT-specific, in that it can refer to both men and women who exp
erience same-sex

gender and sex: 6JGVGTOpUGZqTGHGTUVQDKQNQIKECNN[FGVGTOKPGFFKHHGTGPces, whereas pgenderq refers to differences in 
social roles and relations. Gender roles are learned through socialization and vary widely within and between cul
tures. Gender roles
are also affected by age, class, race, ethnicity and religion, as well as by geographical, economic and political
 environments. Moreover, gender roles are specific to a historical context and can evolve over time, in particula
r through the empowerment
of women.  gender identity6JKUTGHGTUVQGCEJRGTUQPoUFGGRN[HGNVKPVGTPCNCPd individual experience of gender, which m
ay or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, or with the way they are made to express their gender. G
ender expression
includes the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance o
r function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech
neither male nor female; it may also be more than one gender, or no gender. heterosexual/heterosexuality: 6JGVGTO
primarily physically, sexually and emotionally attracted to people of the opposite sex.  intersex: Individuals wh
o possess genital, chromosomal or hormonal characteristics which do
reproductive anatomy. Intersexuality may take different forms and cover a wide range of conditions.  lesbian: TJG
emotionally attracted to other women. It can refer to same-sex sexual attraction, same-sex sexual behaviour, and 
same-sex cultural identity for women.  LGBTI: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people Amnesty Inte
rnational November 2015
      Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  9 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia 
ONFP: Office National de la Famille et de la Population (National Board for Family and Population) sex work: The 
term psex workq is used in
this report to refer to the consensual exchange between adults of sexual services for some form of remuneration. 
sex worker: 6JGVGTOpUex workerq is used to refer to someone who sells sex. Sex work involves a contractual arrang
ement where sexual
services are negotiated between consenting adults, with the terms of engagement agreed between the seller and the
 buyer of sexual services. Sex work may vaT[KPVJGFGITGGVQYJKEJKVKUOQTGQTNGUUpHQTOCNqQTQTICPKzed.
identity on any individual interviewed for purposes of this research. The term sex work is not used in this repor
t for situations in which persons who are engaged in commercial sex are doing so without their consent. Such situ
ations must be subject to
criminal sanctions. Consensual sex work should be distinguished from human trafficking, a serious human rights ab
use that is defined by the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women a
nd Children (Palermo
threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or
 of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a
 person having control over
another person, for the purpose of exploitation." transgender people: Transgender people are individuals whose ge
nder expression and/or gender identity differs from conventional expectations based on the physical sex they were

birth but has a female gender identity; a transgender man is a person who was assigned pHGOCNGqCVDKTVJDWVJCUCOCNG
identify as male or female; transgender is a term that includes individuals who identify as more than one gender 
or no gender at all. Transgender individuals may or may not choose to undergo some or all possible forms of gende
r reassignment treatment.
travesti: The term pVTCXGUVKq refers to a person who sometimes or permanently chooses to dress in the opposite ge
nder to their sex. Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

10 10   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

1. INTRODUCTION  nThey blame me for everythingo
A survivor of marital rape, speaking to Amnesty International in March 2105 Meriem Ben Mohammed,1 aged 27, filed 
a complaint of rape against two police officers in September 2012 shortly after she was raped. When police charge
d her with pKPFGEGPE[q
following her complaint, Tunisians were outraged.2 They expressed their anger on social media and protested until
 the charges against her were dropped and the two officers were charged. The officers were eventually sentenced t
o 15 years in prison.3 In
an unprecedented move, the then President Moncef Marzouki asked to meet Meriem to offer her a state apology.  Mer
iemoU case became emblematic of the numerous obstacles facing survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in
Tunisiap4CRGFDWVCEEWUGFqDGECOGCRJTCUGthat highlighted the entrenched prejudices and discrimination against survi
vors of sexual and gender-based violence who, like Meriem, are often victimized and held responsible for the crim
es they have
suffered/GTKGOoUECUGhighlighted deep flaws in Tunisian legislation and the need for EQORTGJGPUKXGNGICNTGHQTOUVQR
TQVGEVUWTXKXQTUoTKIJVUCPFGPCDNGVJGO to access justice effectively.  SCALE OF ABUSE Violence against women in Tuni
sia is
widespread and cuts across age, geographic location, education levels and socio-economic groups. The only nationa
l survey on violence against women to date was conducted by the Office National de la Famille et de la Population
 (ONFP s National Board for
Family and Population) in 2010 as part of a national strategy to combat such violence. Its findings show just how
 prevalent the violence is and challenged previously held beliefs that it is restricted to the most marginalized 
social groups.4

1 The pseudonym Meriem Ben Mohammed was chosen by the woman herself once the case was reported to the media, to p
rotect her from stigmatization.  2 See Amnesty International, Tunisia: Woman allegedly raped by police faces pros
ecution, 27 September 2012,
available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2012/09/tunisia-woman-allegedly-raped-

Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  11 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 Some 47.6% of respondents among single, engaged, married, divorced and widowed women living in both rural and ur
ban areas stated that they
had experienced some form of violence at least once.5 Among these, 31.7% had suffered a form of physical violence
, 28.9% psychological violence, and 15.7% sexual violence.6 In 78.2% of the cases of sexual
valent in rural areas.8 Over half (56.4 %) of those who had experienced violence declared that it affected their 
daily life.9  The
survey showed that spousal and other family violence is the most pervasive form of violence, and that violence ag
ainst women in the public sphere appeared relatively low. It did not address other forms of discrimination. Only 
6% of the respondents who
work or have worked said they experienced harassment in the workplace,10 and 5% said that they faced sexual haras
sment in public spaces.11

Women with little or no education reported more violence s half of respondents who were illiterate stated that th
ey had experienced a form of violence at least once. However, educated women are not immune to abuse s 41.6% wome
n with university education
had experienced some form of violence. Women in paid employment seemed to be less vulnerable to violence than tho
se who stayed at home. There is no similar information on the scale of violence perpetrated by state agents; the 
ONFP survey did not address
this issue despite reports by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, that women were tortur
ed and sexually assaulted by security forces under the rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (1987-2011). In 1993, Amne
sty International published
a report documenting a wave of arbitrary arrests of women relatives of political opponents of President Ben Ali, 
when scores of women, including some of who were pregnant, were beaten, undressed, sexually abused, placed in con
torted positions, or
threatened with rape or prosecution for adultery.12  By July 2015, the Truth and Dignity Commission s established
 in 2014 to address political,

des Femmes en Tunisie 2010, available at: http://www.onfp.nat.tn/violence/e-book/violence.pdf  5 The information 
is based on a sample of 3,873 respondents aged between 18 and 64. See ONFP,
'PSWĂVG0CVKQPCNGUWTNC8KQNGPEG╝No'ICTFFGU(GOOGUGP6WPKUKGp. 45, available at : http://www.onfp.nat.tn/violence

PCNGUWTNC8KQNGPEG╝No'ICTFFGU(GOOGUGP6WPKUKG, p. 14. 12 See Amnesty International, Women victims of harassment
torture and imprisonment, June 1993, (Index: MDE 30/02/93), available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/md
e30/002/1993/en/  Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

12 12   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

social and economic crimes and investigate human rights violations since 1 July 1955 s
received some 13,278 complaints, including from 1,626 women. Of these women, 400 were former prisoners.13 #EEQTFK
Dignity Commission, many of the complaints related to sexual harassment, but only a few mentioned rape explicitly
. However, she stated that the numbers did not represent the extent of past violations, and that more efforts wer
e needed to encourage women
to report them. Since the 2011 uprising, there have been renewed allegations of sexual harassment by police and s
ome cases of sexual violence by state agents.  Similarly, no official data is available on the scale of violence 
against sex workers or
LGBTI people who are abused on account of their actual or perceived gender identity, sexual orientation or sexual
The Personal Status Code, adopted in 1956 and amended several times since then, is considered CUVJGOQUVRTQITGUUKX
abolished polygamy and repudiation;14 removed the duty of wives to obey their husbands; granted equal rights to m
en and women in terms of marriage, divorce and property ownership; and established equality between spouses with 
regard to family
obligations. Following amendments to the Nationality Law in 1993 and 2002, Tunisian women married to foreign nati
onals can now pass on their nationality to their children.  Tunisians are proud that their country preceded Franc
e by two years in
legalizing abortion on request. Indeed, in 1973 women gained the right to free abortion on demand during the firs
t three months of pregnancy.15 That same year Tunisia created the ONFP, and established health care services acro
ss the country to deliver
free contraception. Gradually women became well represented in professions that had been dominated by men. For ex
ample, by 2010, 33% of judges and 42.5% of lawyers in Tunisia were women.16 By 2013, 30% of engineers were women.
 By 2014, 42% of medical
doctors and 53% of pharmacists were women.17 9QOGPoURQNKVKECNRCTVKEKRCVKQPalso increased: today, 31% QH6WPKUKCoU

13 See Ibtihel Abdelatif, 2T┼UKFGPVGFGNCEQOOKUUKQPHGOOGU╝No+8&, July 2015, available at: https://inkyfada.com/201
5/07/ibtihel-abdelatif-commission-femme-ivd-tunisie/. Amnesty International spoke to Ibtihel Abdelatif over the p
hone on 12 August
2015.  14 4GRWFKCVKQPTGHGTUVQVJGJWUDCPFoUTKIJVVQWPKNCVGTCNVGTOination of marriage without court proceedings.  15 
Tunisian women with five or more children had already gained the right to abortion s performed in the first three
 months of
pregnancy s under Law No. 65-24 of 1 July 1965.  16 See Le Centre de recherches, d'Útudes, de documentation et d'
information sur la femme (CREDIF), Femmes et hommes en Tunisie: chiffres et indicateurs, 2010 in Gribaa Boutheina
 and Depaoli Giorgia,
Profil Genre de la Tunisie, July 2014.

17 See Gribaa Boutheina and Depaoli Giorgia, Profil Genre de la Tunisie, July 2014.

Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  13 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 parliamentarians are women compared to only 4% in 1989.18

While the Tunisian state demonstrated its EQOOKVOGPVVQIGPFGTGSWCNKV[CPFYQOGPoUTKIJVU
over the years, these achievements would not have been possible without the mobilization of XCTKQWUYQOGPoUTKIJVUI
TQWRUCPFVJGKTECNNUHQTTGHQTOToday, some 700 organizations work QPYQOGPoUTKIJVUCPFwomen empowerment in Tunisia.19

Women played an instrumental role in organizing protests and demonstrations against former President Zine El Abid
ine Ben Ali, and continue to shape Tunisian politics since his ousting in 2011. Operating without the severe
organizations were key to GPUWTKPIVJCVIGPFGTGSWCNKV[CPFYQOGPoUTKIJVUTGOCKPed high on the political agenda during 
the post-uprising transition. As a result, an electoral law was adopted in April 2011 requiring gender parity in 
candidate lists
submitted by all political parties ahead of elections to the National Constituent Assembly. It made headlines wor
ldwide, although women won less seats than expected (some 30%).
ords women greater protection against violence, guarantees equal opportunities between women and men, and obliges
 the state to
work towards gender parity in elected assemblies. Later in 2014, Tunisia became the first country in the region t
o lift all reservations to CEDAW, ratified in 1985, even though it maintained a general declaration that it would
 take no organizational or
IJVUKP6WPKUKCKUEQORNGZ Tunisia remains a relatively conservative country where traditional gender roles prevail.
society and family unit continue to be organized according to patriarchal norms, while women face discrimination 
under laws relating to family, in particular with regards to child custody and inheritance. Tunisian wives no lon
ger have a legal obligation
to obey their husbands following amendments to the Personal Status Code in 1993, but husbands remain the head of 
the family and must provide for their wife and children to the best of their ability, and both spouses are expect
ed to fulfil their marital
duties in accordance with traditions and customs.21 Further, according to the Personal Status Code, a dowry remai
ns a precondition for a marriage to be legally recognized and the dowry amount is included on the marriage contra
ct.22 In practice, however,
the dowry tends to be a minimal, symbolic amount.23

18 However, women are underrepresented in decision-making positions.  19 See CREDIF, 1DUGTXCVQKTGIGPTGGV┼ICNKV┼FG
https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CN/2014/CN.220.2014-Eng.pdf 21 Personal Status Code, Article 23.  22 Pers
onal Status Code, Articles 3 and 12. 23 In 1962, Habib

             Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

14 14   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

A recent study by the Ministry of Women comparing time management between men and women confirmed just how entren
ched traditional gender roles are in Tunisian society. Among other things, it showed that women spend eight times
 more time than men
performing household chores, including caring for children, elderly people and other dependents.24 While YQOGPoUN
university, their participation KPVJGNCDQWTOCTMGVKUOWEJNQYGTVJCPVJCVQHOGPoU.25  Perhaps what most undermines the 
gains is the prevalence of violence against women and girls.  In November 2014, Amnesty International delivered a
 petition signed
by 198,128 people calling on the Tunisian authorities to repeal harmful laws, adopt a comprehensive law on violen
ce against women, decriminalize sexual relations between unmarried consenting adults and same-sex sexual relation
s, provide effective social
and medical services, and make available effective legal remedies that are sensitive to the needs of survivors of
 sexual violence, amongst other things. At the time, the then Secretary of State for Women and Family26 and the M
inister of Health publicly
expressed their support for Amnesty InterPCVKQPCNoUECORCKIP

rights situation in Tunisia and three fact-finding visits to the country in October 2013, October 2014 and March 
2015. During these visits, Amnesty International interviewed YQOGPoUTKIJVUFGHGPFGTULGBTI activists, lawyers, med
ical professionals
(including forensic doctors, psychiatrists, emergency doctors and psychologists), judges, social workers, governm
ent child protection delegates and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Subsequent interviews were cond
ucted over the phone. In
total, 60 interviews were

symbolic dinar on the occasion of his wedding to break from a tradition that imposed payment of a substantial sum
. Gradually, families adopted this practice and today men often give their wives a symbolic one dinar coin or a 2
0 dinar banknote at the
signing of the marriage contract. See Labidi Lilia (2008), From sexual submission to voluntary commitment, The tr
ansformation of family ties in contemporary Tunisia, in Yount Kathryn and Rashad Hoda, Family in the Middle East,
 Ideational change in
Egypt, Iran and Tunisia, Routledge, 2008.  24 See Ministry of Women, Family Affairs and Childhood, Budget temps d
es femmes et des hommes en Tunisie, 2011, available at:
0630636dc1  25 European Parliament, Directorate General for Internal Policies, Gender Equality Policy in Tunisia,
 2012, available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/note/join/2012/462502/IPOL-
FEMM_NT(2012)462502_EN.pdf  26 The Ministry of Women and Family Affairs was established in 1993. In 2014, the Min
istry was briefly replaced by the office of the Secretary of State for Women and Family, CVVCEJGFVQVJG2TKOG/KPKUV
office, before becoming a ministry again in the coalition government in 2015. Amnesty International November 2015
           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  15 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 conducted in five governorates s Tunis, Sfax, Gafsa, Le Kef and Kairouan.  The organization met 40 survivors of 
sexual assault, rape
(including marital rape), domestic violence and sexual harassment. They included single, married and divorced wom
en, some of whom were abused as children, as well as sex workers and LGBTI people who faced abuse on account of t
heir actual or perceived
sexual activity, sexual orientation and gender identity. The cases documented by Amnesty International included v
iolence perpetrated by state agents and private individuals. Interviews with survivors were conducted either in p
rivate or in small groups
at the request of the interviewees. In some cases, NGO representatives or medical doctors who facilitated the mee
tings were present when the interviewees so wished.  In March 2015, Amnesty International met forensic doctors at
 the medico-legal centres
at Charles Nicolle Hospital in Tunis and Habib Bourguiba Hospital in Sfax. The organization also met a forensic s
pecialist working at the Houcine BouzaiŔne Regional Hospital in Gafsa. At Habib Bourguiba Hospital, the organizat
ion interviewed women
survivors of violence following their medico-legal consultation.  6QICKPCDGVVGTWPFGTUVCPFKPIQHVJGIQXGTPOGPVoUTGUR
QPUGVQUGZWCNCPFIGPFGT-based violence, in October 2014 Amnesty International researchers met the then transitional
including the Minister of Justice and officials at the Ministry of Interior. Following the formation of a new gov
ernment, Amnesty International representatives met the Minister of Women, Family Affairs and Childhood, Samira Me
rai Friaa, in March 2015 as
well as officials at the Ministry of Health, including ONFP representatives, to discuss health services available
 to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Their views and the information they provided are reflected in
 this report.  In May 2015,
information on statistics concerning sexual violence. The information provided is included in this report.  Most 
of the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence spoke to Amnesty International on condition of anonymity as 
they feared social
stigmatization and reprisals. As a result, the organization has not been able to request clarification on specifi
c cases from the Tunisian authorities. However, the information obtained from practitioners, human rights defende
rs and survivors allowed
Amnesty International to identify clear patterns, which are reflected in this report.  Unless specified otherwise
, the names of survivors who were interviewed have been withheld at their request. A few requested the use of pse
udonyms. In some cases,
details that would allow for their identification, such as profession or place of residence, have also been withh
eld at their request.  Amnesty International is extremely grateful VQ6WPKUKCPYQOGPoUTKIJVUQrganizations, internat
ional organizations,
LGBTI activists, lawyers, judges and medical professionals who not only shared their knowledge and experience of 
combating sexual and gender-based violence, but also facilitated meetings with survivors. The organization is par
ticularly grateful to all
survivors of sexual and gender-based violence who agreed to share their experiences. Index: MDE 30/2814/2015     
            Amnesty International November 2015

16 16   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

campaign, which aims to defend sexual and reproductive rights worldwide. In the Maghreb region, the campaign call
s on the authorities in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and Western Sahara to amend legislation that fails adequatel
y to protect survivors of
sexual violence and provide them with effective remedies and comprehensive health and social services when such v
iolence occurs.

 Supporters of Amnesty International Tunisia take part in a march in Tunis to mark International Women's Day, Tun
is, 8 March 2015 (Photo: Amnesty International) Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  17 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 2. FAMILY VIOLENCE AND MARITAL RAPE nMy husband beat me like he forgot I was humano
Survivor of domestic violence speaking to Amnesty International, March 2015 Spousal and other family violence, pa
rticularly against women and girls, is so prevalent in Tunisia that it has become normalized. Indeed, the nationa
l survey conducted by ONFP
in 2010 showed that violence suffered by women is most often inflicted by their intimate partner or another famil
y member. Of the respondents, nearly half said that they had been subjected to physical violence by their husband
, fiancÚ or boyfriend at
least once, while 43% stated that they had suffered physical violence from other members of the family, in most c
ases the father. One in five women had experienced psychological violence, while around the same number said they
 had faced physical
violence at home.27

The most common forms of physical violence recorded by the ONFP study were being slapped, being pushed and being 
hit with an object. Other violence included having hair pulled, JCXKPIQPGoU arm twisted, being beaten with a belt
 or a stick, being kicked,
having QPGoUJGCFhit against a wall, being threatened with a knife, being strangled, being tied and being burned. 
Amnesty International heard accounts of such abuses during its interviews.  In terms of psychological violence, w
omen reported being
forced to leave the house; humiliating and demeaning insults; being locked in the house; being threatened with do
gs; and being forced to accept their husband bringing his lovers to the family home.28

Many women end up living in a cycle of violence in which they are abused for years, then file a complaint with th
e police or seek help from their family, before forgiving their husband and withdrawing the complaint. According 
to NGO workers interviewed
by Amnesty International, withdrawing a complaint only encourages more violence and fosters impunity.  In March 2
015, a 32-year-old woman who lives in a small village near Sfax described her


28 See ONFP, 'PSWĂVG0CVKQPCNGUWTNC8KQNGPEG╝No'ICTFFGU(GOOGUGP6WPKUKGavailable at: http://www.onfp.nat.tn/vio

             Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

18 18   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

experience to Amnesty International: +VoUCE[ENGVJCV repeats itself every month s he beats me, I go home to my fam
ily, then he apologizes and I go back. He weakened me, I have no confidence in myself.
   withdrew them. He was very good to me for a few days after that but then became bad again. I still have the me
dical reports from those two incidents. I withdrew my complaint

Protection measures for survivors are almost non-existent. There are no laws allowing the authorities to issue or
ders against offenders, which could protect women from further attacks if supported by appropriate police trainin
g and awareness of
gender-based violence.29  FAMILY AND SOCIAL PRESSURE  Despite the scale of family violence, the study revealed th
at few women pursue judicial remedies even though domestic violence has been explicitly recognized as a crime sin
ce 1993. Under Article 218
of the Penal Code, assault and battery is punishable with up to one year in prison and a 1,000 dinar (approximate
ly US$511) fine. The penalty is increased to a two-year prison term and a 2,000 dinar fine if the perpetrator is 
descendant. Premeditated assault is punishable with a three-year prison term and a 3,000 dinar fine. However, the
 definition of family violence in the Penal Code is restrictive and appears not to cover cases of unmarried or di
vorced couples, and
violence by the extended family. Also, the Penal Code addresses physical violence only; it does not recognize eco
nomic and psychological violence.30

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to reporting violence is the common perception that domestic XKQNGPEGKUpPQTOCNqCPFU
JQWNFDGVQNGTCVGF Indeed, most women (73%) who took part in the ONFP study stated that they did not expect anyone
 to help them, while
only a small fraction said that they had sought help from NGOs (5.4%), the police (3.6%) or health institutions (
2.3%). Only approximately 18% had filed a complaint.31  When asked why they chose not to report the violence and 
file a complaint, well over

29 Euro-Mediterranean human rights network, Tunisia, Report on violence against women, 2014, available at: http:/
VAW-Tunisia-EN.pdf  30 The UN Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women recommends that legislation on d
omestic violence includes a comprehensive definition of domestic violence, including physical, sexual, psychologi
cal and economic violence.
See UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for the Advancement of Women, Handbook for Legislation
 on Violence against Women, ST/ESA/329, 2009. 31 See ONFP, Enquŕte Nationale sur la Violence Ó No'ICTFFGU(GOOGUGP
6WPKUKGp. 68,
available at: http://www.onfp.nat.tn/violence/e-book/violence.pdf  Amnesty International November 2015           
Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  19 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 while some 14% said that they did not wish to bring disgrace to the family.  Indeed, in the vast majority of cas
es, women abused by their
spouses turn to their families for help but instead of support, they face pressure to preserve the interest of th
e family. Many women interviewed by Amnesty International described being asked by their families to
DGpRCVKGPVqCPFYGTGGXGPVWCNN[Eonvinced to forgive their husband. In March 2015, Rima, a 35-year-old woman from Sfa
x who has been married for six years, described to Amnesty International how she felt pressured into marrying her
 husband despite
knowing he was violent. Her engagement lasted five years and her husband beat her for the first time in front of 
her parents in the lead-up to their wedding. At that point, she and her husband were legally married but continue
d to live apart until their
wedding night celebration. To end her relationship, Rima filed for an annulment but said that she was RTGUUWTGFD[
JGTJWUDCPFoUfamily and her own relatives to go through with the marriage. She said that she felt she had no optio
n but to do so. Such
perceptions are commonly held by police officers who lack the necessary training to intervene in cases of family 
violence, which they see as a private matter. There are no specialized police units to deal with family and sexua
l violence, and survivors
usually file complaints with branches of the National Guard or the judicial police.32 The number of women police 
officers is low, and they tend not to work in the evenings or at night.33 Some women interviewed by Amnesty Inter
national said that police
officers either dismissed their reports or blamed them for the violence. In general, the police attempted to disc
ourage them from filing a complaint, convincing them not to break up the family and to put the interests of child
ren first. Instead of
enforcing the law and protecting women from further violence, police see their role as promoting mediation and re
conciliation.  Rima told Amnesty International that her husband again beat her in 2009 when she was pregnant, a y
ear into their marriage.
Even though her husband had fractured her arm, the police tried to dissuade her from seeking justice. She told Am
nesty International: On Sunday, I went to the emergency unit in the hospital with my brother and then on Monday I
 went to the police station
to file a complaint against my husband. They told me to think about it and asked me why my husband beat me. They 
said that it would be better for me not to complain. Instead, they said they could bring my husband to the statio
n and get him to sign a
commitment not to do it again otherwise he could go to prison. I had to go back on Tuesday because they sent me a
way and told me to think about it and think about what would happen to me and my children if my husband went to p
rison. I had to insist to
get the complaint filed. FIGHTING FOR DIVORCE For many women, the lack of financial independence means that they 
feel they cannot ask for a divorce. Although the Personal Status Code provides for spousal maintenance payable to

32 The judicial police is controlled by the Ministry of Interior but operates within the Ministry of Justice.  33
 Amnesty International meeting with officials at the Ministry of Interior, 24 October 2014.  Index: MDE 30/2814/2
015                 Amnesty
International November 2015

20 20   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

women, it does so only in cases of divorce for harm, or when instigated by their husbands without any basis. In 1
993, the Ministry of Social Affairs established a divorce allowance fund to support divorced women whose husbands
 fail to provide the
monthly spousal maintenance. The absence of shelters and other living alternatives, especially in more remote are
as, is another factor that forces women to stay in the cycle of violence.  Many women end up filing a complaint a
bout family violence do so
in the context of fighting for divorce for harm. Forensic doctors explained that, in most cases, women seek judic
ial remedies as a last resort after reconciliation attempts have failed, and reach such a decision only after yea
rs of abuse and
humiliation, given the stigma associated with divorce.34

A lawyer who provides legal support to women survivors of domestic violence explained that divorced women are, in
 general, badly perceived in society:  A woman is always responsible for her victimhood even if the husband beats
 her, cheats on her or
drinks. Divorce is always her fault.35

Under Article 31 of the Personal Status Code, divorce can only be granted in court based on the following three s
ituations: divorce based on mutual consent; divorce based on harm; and divorce without grounds. Reconciliation se
ssions presided over by a
family judge are a mandatory stage in divorce proceedings. Usually, three sessions are held for couples who have 
children, and one for couples without children. The simplest and fastest option is divorce based on mutual consen
t, while divorce without
grounds is the least favoured because the instigator is required to pay all associated fees. Women who wish to re
tain their right to spousal maintenance must seek a harm-based divorce, which involves lengthy, complicated and c
ostly court proceedings,
including legal fees. Article 31 of the Personal Status Code provides for compensation for moral and material dam
age suffered by either spouse, and for a monthly spousal maintenance paid by the husband to his former wife until

of life prior to divorce.  For divorce based on harm, the burden of proof lies with survivors of the harm as ther
e are no judicial police specialized in investigating such cases. In general, the family judge ruling on divorce 
cases only
harm. Testimony of the survivor is usually considered insufficient on its own. The high burden of proof and evide
ntiary requirements, and the lack of police investigations often prevent women from obtaining divorce on the grou
nds of harm.  Conviction
rates for spousal violence appear to be low despite the high number of complaints. This is mainly because most co
mplaints are either withdrawn or dismissed before they are

34 According to one study conducted in Sfax, of 47 women who lodged a complaint against their husbands, the major
ity had been subjected to more than 10 assaults at the time of filing the complaint. See Dr Narjes Ben Ammar, Par
cours des femmes victimes
de violence conjugale portant plainte, Parcours des combattantes Ó propos de 47 cas, Tunis, 2013.  35 Amnesty Int
ernational interview, Gafsa, 18 March 2015. Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  21 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 referred to court. Under Article 218 of the Penal Code, all proceedings, trials and enforcement of penalties in 
cases of domestic violence
are terminated as soon as the victim of the assault withdraws her complaint. Once a complaint is dropped, all rec
ord of it is removed and it no longer has any legal consequence on the perpetrator.36

According to the Ministry of Justice, in the 2012-2013 judicial year, the public prosecution received 5,575 compl
aints of marital violence, of which some 65.8% (3,672) were either withdrawn or dismissed. Of the accepted compla
ints, only 28.9% (551)
resulted in convictions. By comparison, in 2011-2012, the public prosecution received 5,248 complaints, of which 
68.3% (3,583) were either withdrawn or dismissed, and convictions were secured in 38.9% of accepted cases (649). 
In 2010-2011, some 72.5% of
the total number of filed complaints (5,116) were either withdrawn or dismissed, and some 710 individuals were co
nvicted of marital violence, representing approximately 50.5% of cases referred to court.37  In some areas of the
 country, the number of
withdrawn complaints is higher. A study done in 2013 by the medico-legal unit of Habib Bourguiba University Hospi
tal in Sfax showed that 80% of the 150 women who came to the unit over a period of eight months to obtain a medic
al certificate recording
evidence of physical violence later withdrew their complaint. The main reason for doing so was because they were 
financially dependent on their husbands.  In many cases, the police end up mediating between the spouses, forcing
 the accused to sign a
commitment that he will stop hurting his wife. Such commitments have no legal standing and are largely ineffectiv
e.  A 26-year-old woman from Gafsa, who was married from 2005 to 2008, described to Amnesty International how her
 complaints to the police
and the commitments her ex-
husband signed at the police station have not stopped the violence: My husband used to beat me every day. We got 
divorced at my request but my problems are worse now s he comes to my house, forces himself in and beats me, he t
alks badly about me, he
follows me to work. When I complained against him in 2009 after he broke O[PQUGCPFEWVO[HCEGVJGRQNKEGDNCOGFOGCPFV
   I was just trying VQETGCVGRTQDNGOU*GoUQP good relations with the police in the area. I filed a complaint agai
nst him on 14 September 2014 and he came to the police station

36 A similar provision is contained in Article 319 of the Penal Code, which prescribes a 15-day prison term for a
cts of violence and brawls that do not cause any serious or long-VGTOFCOCIGVQVJGXKEVKOoU
health. Under Article 319, all proceedings, trials and enforcement of penalties are terminated as soon as the vic
tim of the assault s spouse or ascendant s withdraws her complaint. 37 Presentation by Samia Doula, Ministry of J
ustice, 19 January 2015.
Similarly, in 2009-2010, approximately 72.9% of all complaints (6,463) were either withdrawn or dismissed, while 
the same was true for 66.6% of complaints in 2008-2009.  Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty Internat
ional November 2015

22 22   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

   anything about it.  LACK OF AWARENESS OF RIGHTS In general, the police fail to inform survivors of their right
s or carry out investigations in the family home. In the absence of state-run schemes to provide legal aid and in
formation to survivors,
NGOs are often the only institutions able to protect survivors. A 48-year-old mother of two from Le Kef told Amne
sty International that, despite obtaining two convictions after she filed complaints about family violence agains
t her husband, she was
unaware that she had the right to file for divorce. During their 15 years of marriage, she had been hospitalized 
several times following beatings. Although her husband forced her to leave the house, he continues to harass and 
otherwise abuse her. The
police have not implemented any protective orders. The husband was recently sentenced to six months in prison and
 a 500 dinar (approximately US$255) fine after beating her and burning her hand. He was released after three mont
hs when his sentence was
reduced on appeal. Since then, he has filed for divorce and refuses to provide for their children.  In another ca
se, a 37-year-old woman who was seeking an end to the violence she was experiencing rather than a divorce explain
ed to Amnesty International
that, although she had complained about her husband before, she was unaware of the steps needed to prove that she
 had been beaten. Following legal advice from an NGO, she convinced her husband to sign a commitment at the Natio
nal Guard that he would
stop the violence, and a similar commitment, as well as a confession to having committed violence, at the municip
ality. The confession, which has legal standing, can now be used as proof that violence did indeed occur. She tol
d Amnesty International
that, since then, JGTJWUDCPFoUDGJCXKQWThas changed and the violence has stopped. She said: /[JWUDCPFDGCVOGNKMGJGH
   destroys our belongings, leaves the house and ignores the children for a while and then returns as if nothing 
happened. He began to beat me two years into our marriage. He even beat me while I was pregnant and I fell and hi
t my head. I filed a
complaint at the police station in 2007. The complaint got as far as the court but then I forgave him and witJFTG
   case because I dropped it. In January this year [2015] my husband took a cloth and covered my face and said, p
 I went to
the emergency unit and got a medical report. I want to stay with my husband. I got him to sign a commitment at th
e National Guard station and a confession and commitment at the municipalitye *GoUEJCPIGF
   completely and he takes my opinion and spends time with the children. A woman interviewed by Amnesty Internati
onal in Sfax on 16 March 2015 said she did not want a divorce but was filing a complaint in the hope that it woul
d push her husband to
Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  23 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 provide for her and her children. When Amnesty International met her, she had bruises on her face and injuries t
o her upper and lower back,
buttocks, right hand and both legs that she said were caused by a belt, a wooden plank, shoes CPFJGTJWUDCPFoUJCPF
groaning in pain as she described to Amnesty International her experience: My husband has been beating me for thr
ee years ever since he started cheating on mee
   He swears at me and calls me things like pcrazyq or psickq. He always hits me on the JGCFCPFRWNNUO[JCKT#VPKIJ
   he forces me into the bathroom and wets me with cold water before I go out into the cold.  Although she obtain
ed a medical certificate, she did not wish to file a complaint or seek divorce. She was unaware of her rights or 
any organizations that
could provide her with psycho-social care, legal aid or financial assistance.  MARITAL RAPE Marital rape is inter
twined with family violence. In the cases documented by Amnesty International, it was part and parcel of the viol
ence. Medical professionals
explained that where there is a history of family violence, women are often unable to genuinely consent to sexual
 intercourse because they feel powerless and afraid.  According to the 2010 ONFP study, one in six married women 
has faced sexual violence
at least once in her life, mostly by her intimate partner. Forms of sexual violence identified included being pco
erced into sexual intercourseq, pforced to perform a sexual act that they disapprove ofq, and pforced into sexual
 relations after having
been beatenq38

A survivor of family violence described to Amnesty International her sexual relations with her husband: pNoq is n
   tired or sick, I have no choice. If I say pnoq he forces me and beats me. Another woman described an incident 
where her husband beat her during sexual intercourse:  He was beating me because he said that p+ECPoVFQKVYKVJ[QWq
. He punched me on my
thighs and then slammed his fist down on m[NQYGTDCEM+FKFPoVVGNNCP[QPGYJGPKV
   happened. Despite the prevalence of sexual violence, marital rape is not explicitly recognized as a crime unde
r Tunisian legislation. Under Article 23 of the Personal Status Code, both URQWUGUpOWUV

38 See ONFP, 'PSWĂVGPCVKQPCNG╝No┼ICTFFGUHGOOGUGP6WPKUKG, Rapport principal, July 2010, available at: http://www.o
nfp.nat.tn/violence/e-book/violence.pdf. Amnesty International considers that
rape.            Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

24 24   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

mean that sexual relations constitute a marital obligation. Article 13, which prohibits the husband from compelli
ng his wife to have sexual intercourse until he has paid his dowry, implies that, once he has paid, he can have s
ex with his wife as he
pleases. The Article can be interpreted as condoning marital rape. In its response to a list of questions raised 
added that it falls under Articles 227 and 227bis of the Penal Code. The authorities stressed VJCVpPGKVJGTQHVJGUG
y Amnesty International on 16 March 2015 at the First Instance Court in Sfax agreed that, although Articles 227 a
nd 227bis allow
for the prosecution of individuals accused of marital rape, in practice this rarely, if ever, happens according t
o custom which considers sexual intercourse a marital duty enshrined in the marriage contract. As a result, the l
ack of recognition of
marital rape in law means that acknowledging the crime in court is a matter of discretion. In some cases, individ
uals accused of marital rape have been prosecuted for physical assault under laws on domestic violence.  There is
 also a general lack of
awareness of what constitutes marital rape. Many women are unaware that what they endure is in fact rape. Those i
nterviewed by Amnesty International explained that they had never refused sexual intercourse with their husbands 
because they did not
realize that they have the right to do so. A sex counsellor who sees patients with sexual problems in Tunis told 
Amnesty International that often women realize during therapy that they subconsciously view sex with their husban
ds as rape.  Due to the
stigma and shame associated with sexual violence, activists and doctors told Amnesty International that a woman i
s more likely to speak up about sexual violence by her husband if it involves anal sex, which is criminalized in 
Tunisia and is generally
under Article 228 of the Penal Code.  Samira,40 aged 27, who was raped on 16 May 2013 by her husband in a town in
 the south-
west of Tunisia in the first 12 days of their marriage, told Amnesty International that her father at first tried
 to force her to go back to her husband. She said her family only saw her as a victim when she told them that her
 husband had forcibly
subjected her to anal sex. She told Amnesty International: The first time we had sex, it felt like rape. He was f
orceful and left cuts which got infected. It was painful to urinate. I asked to see a gynaecologist but he refuse
d saying,

39 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. 40 Pseudonym chosen by Amnesty International. Amnesty International November 2015           Index: 
MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  25 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 p+oOCFQEVQTCPF[QWoTGDGKPIRCTCPQKFq. He started drinking every eveninge For a few
   I told him it was against religion. After 10 days he finally took me to a doctor. I told her everything and sh
   grabbed my arms and pushed them behind my back. I protested saying that it hurts. He told me not to be scared,
 and then he raped me. FLAWED TRIAL PROCEEDINGS  Some women interviewed by Amnesty International said the reason 
they do not file a
complaint against their husband is because the process is too long and complicated, and they have little faith in
 the judicial system. In many cases, women reported that the police did not initiate investigations, and alleged 
corruption and bias towards
their husbands. A woman from a marginalized neighbourhood in Tunis who suffered years of family violence after sh
e married a 27-year-old man when she was only 13 recounted her experience: He slashed my stomach and my cheek. I 
still have a scar on my
stomach. I went to report him at the police station and went to the hospital to get stitches. I brought the medic
al certificate and photos of my injuries with me and had to go to two police stations before I was able to give m
y statement. He was never
detained. I heard that he bribed the police into changing the statements and, instead of slashing with a knife, t
hey wrote that he beat me and slapped me. He was given a seven-month suspended sentence. He is now serving a four
-year prison sentence after
he was convicted for assault with a knife on a man. Is my life worth that much less? Those who eventually file ca
ses do so because they have support from their families or YQOGPoUTKIJVU0)1Uthat help identify sympathetic and co
mpetent lawyers, and
help them navigate through the justice system. In some cases documented by Amnesty International, husbands have t
hreatened to file complaints of adultery or harm once the proceedings are over. As a result, the women risk becom
ing the accused instead of
being treated as a victim. Samira, the 27-year-old woman raped by her husband on 16 May 2013 (see above), describ
ed to Amnesty International her ordeal with lawyers and in the courts after she filed a complaint
problem in filing the complaint at the police station, and was referred for forensic examination to establish pro
of of the assault. A medical report issued by a gynaecologist on
had been recently broken. A forensic report issued on 30 May 2013 and reviewed by Amnesty International noted tha
t she had lacerations in the anal canal consistent with marks of pKPFGEGPVCUUCWNVVJTQWIJRGPGVTCVKQPKPVJGCPCNCTGCq
and recommended 15
days of rest. On 23 October 2013, the Accusation Chamber referred the case to trial citing among other VJKPIUVJGU
decided that Article 228 of the Penal CodeYJKEJRGPCNK\GUpKPFGEGPVCUUCWNt without EQPUGPVq (see above), was appli
cable in the case regardless of the marital context.  Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty Internation
al November 2015

26 26   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

When the case reached the Court of First Instance, the judge dismissed it on the basis that the testimonies of JG
TJWUDCPFoU witnesses outweighed her claims. The judge did not take into account the forensic report. The decision
 was upheld on appeal,
which took place nearly two years later. She told Amnesty International:

   In the court, my husband denied everything and said that I stole his gold and other things and that I had left
. He accused me of not being a virgin when we got married and that I had never let him touch me. He then accused 
me of having a boyfriend
before marrying him and brought false witnesses to court. At the time of writing, her case was still at the Court
 of Cassation and she was still unable to obtain a divorce. Her husband has repeatedly accused her of indecency a
nd adultery, claiming that
he sent her away because she was not a virgin at the time of their marriage. Samira is determined to seek judicia
l remedy not only because of the abuse she faced but also because she perceives that her husband has tainted her 
reputation. She returned to
live with her parents, where she suffers violence from her brother and father:  My husband has threatened me many
 times in the street and swears at me so that I drop
   brother again. They blame me for everything and they still beat me.

Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  27 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
difficult to find her a husband.o  Forensic specialist, speaking to Amnesty International about Article 227bis Un
der Tunisian law, rapists and abductors of teenage women and girls can escape prosecution by marrying their victi
m provided that she gives
her consent.41 In both cases, marriage between the perpetrator and the victim leads to the termination of proceed
ings. In the case of rape, prosecution resumes if divorce is pronounced at the request of the husband within two 
years of marriage.  Article
227bis of the Penal Code criminalizes the act of subjecting teenage women and girls VQpnon-EQPUGPUWCNUGZWCNKPVGTE
QWTUGqwithout the use of force, but fails to expressly prohibit such acts against boys and men.42 Amnesty Interna
tional believes that
such acts constitute rape. Article 227bis imposes a six-year prison term for the rape of girls under 15 CPFHKXG[G
238, the kidnapping of children, regardless of their gender, is punishable by up to three [GCTUoKORTKUQPOGPVKHVJG
[are aged between 13 and 18, and up to five years if they are younger than 13. However, in the event a girl is ki
dnapped, under Article
239 all proceedings against the perpetrator are dropped as soon as he marries the victim.  These provisions, whic
h exempt a rapist or kidnapper from punishment if he subsequently

41 In the case of rape, this provision applies only to women and girls under the age of 20, and when rapists do n
ot use violence. In the case of abduction, this provision applies to girls under the age of 18 only. 42 In 2010, 
the Committee on the Rights
of the Child recommended that Tunisia amend Article 227bis VQpGPUWTGVJCVUGZWCNKPVGTEQWTUGYKVJQWVXKQNGPEGYKVJDQVJI
GZRTGUUN[RTQJKDKVGFq5GG%QOOKVVGGQPVJG4KIJVUQHVJG%JKNF(KHV[-fourth session, Consideration of reports submitted b
y States parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of th
e Child: Tunisia
(CRC/C/TUN/CO/3), 16 June 2010. Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

28 28   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia


In its response to a list of issues and questions submitted VQ%'	FWTKPI6WPKUKCoUTGXKGY
of its obligations under the Convention, the Tunisian government acknowledged that, in cases of family XKQNGPEGCP
explained that the provision terminating the prosecution of rapists or nullifying convictions VJTQWIJOCTTKCIGKUOQ
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 CUUCKNCPVVQVJQUGIGPGTCNN[CRRNKGFWPFGT6WPK

There is very little information publicly available on the application of Articles 227bis and 239. According to t
he Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 94 cases of abduction of girls under the age of 18 were reported in 2014 compared
 to none in 2013, 59 in
in 2014 compared to 37 in 2013, 41 in 2012, 34 in 2011 and 44 in 2010. Further, some 28 abduction cases of girls 
were reported in 2014 compared to 42 in 2013, 29 in 2012, 34 in 2011 and 50 in 2010, although the authorities did
 not specify their age.
Some 28 cases of rape and attempted rape were reported by girls under the age of 18 in 2014, compared to 42 in 20
13, 29 in 2012, 34 in 2011 and 50 in 2010.44

International said that provisions allowing the rapist to escape prosecution are still applied (although rarely),
 particularly in the south and in rural areas, which are socially more conservative. Many stressed that, given th
at Article 227bis
criminalizes the act of subjecting a girl or a woman aged 20 or under to a sexual act without the recourse to vio
lence, it is also applied in cases of consensual sex between young couples that elope.45 Some thought that provis
ions included in Article
227bis allowed a more practical solution to the situation than a prison sentence for the man. Others told Amnesty
 International that the Article is sometimes used by young girls to force a man into marrying them and did not se
e a need to amend the law.
Instead, they praised it for providing social protection for girls in a society where

43 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
International Organizations and Conferences, Human Rights Directorate, on 16 May 2015 responding to VJGQTICPK\CVK
ry of Interior
on 12 March 2015. 45 In such cases, teenage women and girls are routinely referred to forensic examinations to es
tablish whether they have lost their virginity even though there is no scientific basis for such tests and they c
onstitute a form of
degrading treatment. See also ATFD, Les droits des femmes en Tunisie, RÚsumÚ des SWGUVKQPURTKQTKVCKTGUUQWOKURCTNo
Nations Unies pour l'Úlimination de la discrimination Ó l'Úgard des femmes 47Ŕme session, October 2010, available
 at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/ATFD_Declaration_fr.pdf

Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  29 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 extramarital sex is considered taboo.  Such arguments do not take into account what constitutes violence. This i
s especially problematic
given the difficulty of obtaining proof of rape. There is also no acknowledgement of other forms of violence, suc
h as emotional and psychological pressure, that may be used against a young woman or girl to coerce them into sex
. As a result, Article
227bis fails to provide adequate protection to women and girls against rape. Following recommendations made by th
e Committee on the Rights of the Child, in 2007 the minimum age for marriage in Tunisia was set at 18 for both me
n and women.46 Child
marriage rates in general are relatively low.47 In theory, a girl must consent to marriage under the conditions p
rovided for in Article 227bis, and always has the option of refusing if she was
the abuse or the pressures she may face from her family or social workers to accept marriage. It also fails to ta
ke into account the lack of support structures, including shelters, for girls who may face rejection from their f
amilies if they refuse the
marriage, especially if the rape results in pregnancy. A woman interviewed by Amnesty International in Gafsa who 
is now 26 years old and divorced described how she felt pressured into marrying her husband after she gave birth 
to their child when she was
a minor. Aged 17, she ran away from home to escape family violence. She stayed with relatives in another city and
 three months later met the man who became her husband. She said the first time they had sex he forced himself on
 her. She continued to see
him and a few months later became pregnant. As a minor, she could not marry without parental consent so continued
 to live with him as she did not have anywhere else to go. Seven months into her pregnancy, her partner began to 
beat her. When she was in
hospital to give birth, the hospital reported her case to the government child protection delegate for the region
, who came to visit her. Because she was a minor, under the law she was considered to have been raped. The delega
te gave her two options:
either marry the father of the child as allowed under Article 227bis or reconcile with her family. She felt she h
ad no option but to choose marriage, especially as it meant he acknowledged their child as his. Today, despite be
ing divorced, her
ex-husband continues to be violent towards her. A sex counsellor in Tunis explained to Amnesty International the 
detrimental psychological impact of the application of Article 227bis on girls and women regardless of whether th
ey have been raped or have
   much about. Sometimes girls use the law to their own advantage to trap the man that they really want to marry.
 Whether it is the girl who is abused or the man who is trapped,

46 Until amendments made to the Personal Status Code in 2007 (Act No. 2007-32 of 14 May 2007), the legal age for 
marriage was 17 for girls and 20 for men.  47 According to one study, only 0.4% of Tunisian women married when th
ey were younger than 15,
and 5.1% married when they were younger than 18. The reasons for the marriage are not provided. See Gribaa Bouthe
ina and Depaoli Giorgia, Profil Genre de la Tunisie, July 2014.

             Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

30 30   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

   it always ends badly. In cases where girls get married to the man who abused them, every sexual intercourse wi
ll be lived as rape. At times, it is girls who fall in love with boys whom they seduce. If the men get married to
 them against their will,
they will make their lives very difficult, and keep abusing them. CHILD PROTECTION  Tunisia has specific laws to 
protect children from harm and to instil procedures to ensure the best interest of children. Under the 2014 Const
itution, the Tunisian state
has an obligation to pprovide all forms of protection to all children without discrimination according to the bes
t interests of the childq48  Following ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, 
Tunisia 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. The Child Protection Code defines 
anyone aged below 18 as a
child, and RTQXKFGUHQTVJGETGCVKQPQHURGEKCNK\GFEJKNFTGPoUEQWTVUCPFchild protection delegates who can intervene whe
n a child may be in danger.49 The activities of child protection delegates are overseen by the General Delegate f
or Child
Protection, who reports to the Minister of Women, Family Affairs and Childhood. Article 31 of the Child Protectio
n Code makes it everyoneoUTGURQPUKDKNKV[ including those bound by professional discretion, to inform the child p
rotection delegate if they
bodily or mental integrity may be at risk. Such threatening situations are set out under Article 20 of the Code, 
and include mistreatment and sexual exploitation.50  Some 6,096 cases of children at risk were reported to child 
protection delegates in
2014 compared to 5,783 in 2013 and 5,992 in 2012.51 Sexual violence against children constituted approximately 6.
3% of all cases registered in 2014 (298 cases). However, the statistics compiled by the Office of the General Del
egate for Child Protection
failed to provide information on the measures taken to address the abuses and whether investigations were launche
d. While judges and lawyers interviewed by Amnesty International acknowledged that Tunisian

48 #TVKENGQHVJGPGY%QPUVKVWVKQPCNUQIWCTCPVGGUEJKNFTGPoUTKIhts to dignity, health, care, education and teaching b
y their parents and the state.  49 There are 24 offices of s across the country (one in every governorate). Child
delegates have COCPFCVGVQTGEGKXGTGRQTVUQPpEJKNFTGPKPFCPIGTq6JG[CUUGss the danger, determine the real needs of th
e child in danger and set priorities for the development of an individualized intervention plan to end the danger
. 50 Other
threatening situations include: the loss of parents for children without family support, exposure to neglect and 
vagrancy, exploitation for organized crime, exposure to begging and economic exploitation,

51 See Ministry of Women, Family and Childhood, Office of the General Delegate for Child Protection, $WNNGVKPUVCV
http://www.delegue-enfance.nat.tn/images/depliant_DPE_2014.pdf  Amnesty International November 2015           Ind
ex: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  31 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 law was strong on child protection, they explained that the implementation of the law remained a problem. In 201
0, the Committee on the
Rights of the Child expressed concern CV6WPKUKCoUHCKNWTGVQOQPKVQTVJGquality and efficiency of the juvenile justic
e system and to guarantee full implementation of all provisions at all stages of the criminal justice process. It
 further expressed
concern at the lack of adequate co-ordination between various stakeholders involved in child protection.52 Indeed
, child protection delegates appear to be under-
resourced, so they cannot follow up adequately on the large number of cases. The workload of child protection del
egates also means that there is a lack of co-ordination between their work and the courts, particularly in invest
igating crimes against
children and in implementing necessary follow-up care and services. There is also a lack of adequate services for
 children who are victims of sexual violence. Referral to psychological care is not automatic. It depends QPVJGLW
request by VJGEJKNFoUHCOKN[However, due to stigma attached to psychological treatment, families rarely make such
 requests. A child protection delegate explained to Amnesty International that, upon marriage, a child legally be
comes an adult although
he or she may still be under 18 years old. In cases where a girl who is a victim of rape and marries her rapist, 
the child protection delegate is no longer able to intervene or push for continuing support or medical care. LENG
Children who are victims of sexual violence also have to deal with lengthy trial procedures and social pressures.
 There are no procedural rules regarding the provision of evidence in cases of sexual abuse of minors, which are 
crucial to avoid
re-victimization of survivors. A child protection delegate explained to Amnesty International that children are o
ften put through an arduous process when they are brave enough to speak out. They are made to relate their ordeal
 several times to different
people, to the detriment of their emotional wellbeing.  From the experiences of girls interviewed by Amnesty Inte
rnational, it also appears that no effort is made to follow special procedures given their age or the trauma they
 have suffered. Equally, no
effort is made to inform them of their rights or discuss what will be done in their best interest or to protect t
hem from community and family harassment and social stigma.  Two girls who had been sexually abused told Amnesty 
International that they
were banned from returning to their schools because the school directors saw them as a bad influence on other gir
ls. One, a 16-year-old girl who was kidnapped on 1 August 2014 by a distant relative, described her ordeal to Amn
esty International: I had a
fight with my parents that day. I was angry and walked out of the house. A distant relative of mine saw me in the
 street and convinced me to go with him. He

52 See Committee on the Rights of the Child Fifty-fourth session, Consideration of reports submitted by States pa
rties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Tu
nisia (CRC/C/TUN/CO/3), 16
June 2010.

             Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

32 32   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

   to a house in a nearby town. After he slept with me I understood that he was lying and JGFKFPoVYCPVVQIGVOCTTKG
   Finally, a few weeks later, I managed to tell a neighbour from the rooftop that I was being held against my wi
ll. The neighbour told the police and they came and released me. During that time, my family were looking for me 
and my relative would call
them every night and act innocent and pretend to be concerned. When I was released, the police took my statement.
   [under Article 227bis] but I refused. My relative told me not to say that I was taken by force and that if I p
rotected him he would marry me. But then the verdict came out and JGQPN[IQVUKZOQPVJUCPFJKUHCOKN[FKFPoVYCPVJKOto m
arry me any more
because he FKFPoVPGGFVQ

restrictive definition of rape and sexual assault fails to capture the reality that often rape and sexual assault
 is coerced through fear of violence, detention, psychological oppression or abuse of power.
filed a complaint and told Amnesty International that she will persevere to see justice done. Her father, on the 
other hand, does not want his daughter in the house and does not speak to her. The girl said:
betterq. She is not the only one who faces social stigma and challenges with the criminal justice system. A girl 
now aged 18 described to Amnesty International her difficulties in getting justice. Four years since her family f
iled a complaint, the trial
is continuing. When I was 13 I met a boy and I liked him. He promised to marry me. He was 23 years old. I did thi
ngs with him without knowing what I was doing. He also brought four of his friends and he made me see them more t
han once and threatened me
so that I would sleep with them. I was afraid and they threatened me and told me not to tell anyone: not VQVGNNVJ
   either because I was afraid.  Eventually the family found out and filed a complaint in 2011. Since then, she h
as been interrogated several times. Her lawyer explained that the police did not carry out any investigations but
 expected her to bring all
the evidence to court. The men who raped her denied knowing her so the burden of proof fell on her. She eventuall
y brought copies of Facebook conversations which proved that she was known to the men who raped her. In court, sh
e felt the judge was
prejudiced, shouting at her while being friendly to the accused. Four years on, the case is now at the appeal sta
ge and she is tired: Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                      ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  33 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia I FQP

around like nothing happened. It should be the other way around. Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty 
International November 2015

34 34   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

controlo  20-year-old gay student speaking to Amnesty International, Sfax  A widely held perception is that same
-sex relations in Tunisia are tolerated as long as they are not displayed in public. In reality, however, lesbian
, gay, bisexual,
transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face pervasive discrimination, live in the constant fear of arrest, and a
re particularly vulnerable to violence on account of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identit
y. Same-sex consensual
sexual relations are criminalized under Article 230 of the Penal Code, which provides for a three-[GCTRTKUQPUGPVG
of the application of the Article is unknown. Activists told Amnesty International that the legislation is never 
applied to prosecute lesbian women, and its application against gay men is not systematic. Damj,53 an NGO working
 on minority rights,
including LGBTI rights, documents approximately 60 arrests of gay men every year, although it is not entirely cle
ar whether all those arrested are prosecuted solely for engaging in same-sex activity. In most cases, the length 
of sentence ranges from six
to 18 months in prison, and is sometimes reduced on appeal. According to Damj, since 2008 there has only been one
 known case where a man accused of consensual same-sex activity was sentenced to two years in prison, and one unc
onfirmed report of a
three-year maximum sentence against two individuals. Others may have gone unreported.54  On 28 September 2015, th
en Minister of Justice Mohamed Salah Ben Aissa made a groundbreaking public call for the decriminalization of sam
e-sex relations. He stated
that Article 230 undermines the right to private life and personal freedoms and choices, including sexual ones, g
uaranteed under the Constitution.55 His statement was prompted by a public


54 According to press reports citing a representative of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Swedish man w
as arrested on 18 January 2015 in Sousse and prosecuted on charges of engaging in consensual homosexual activitie
s. He was sentenced to two
years in prison on 4 February 2015, but has since been released. There have been unconfirmed reports that two Tun
isian men arrested together with the Swedish national were sentenced to three years in prison in the same case.  
55 Mohamed Salah Ben Aissa
was dismissed from his position on 20 October 2015. According to the IQXGTPOGPVoUURQMGURGTUQPSWQVGFKPVJGOGFKCJKU

Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  35 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
s calling for the release of a 22-year-QNFOCPMPQYPCUpMarwanqYJQYCUUGPVGPEGFVQQPG
year in prison for engaging in same-sex activity after being forced to undergo an anal GZCOKPCVKQPVQGUVCDNKUJpRTQ
QHqQHCPCNUGZ.56 The Minister of Justice also called on civil society to work
These hopes were quickly undermined when, days later, President BÚji Ca´d Essebsi stated VJCVVJG/KPKUVGToUUVCVGOG
not be repealed. The statement showed how same-sex activity continues to be a social taboo in Tunisia.57

y against Homophobia, 17 May 2015 (Photo: Without Restrictions)
HATE CRIMES The impact of these laws reaches far beyond the constant risk of arrest and prosecution. Not

limoge-apres-des-propos-peu-serieux_1728660.html 56 Marwan was released on bail at an appeal hearing on 5 Novembe
r 2015. See Amnesty International, Urgent Action, Student jailed for homosexual acts (Index: MDE 30/2586/2015), 5
 October 2015, available
at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/2586/2015/en/ 57 See Kapitalis, *QOQUGZWCNKV┼%C╦F'UUGDUKEQPVTGNoC
XKF┼Q6 October 2015, available at: http://kapitalis.com/tunisie/2015/10/06/homosexualite-caid-essebsi-contre-
labrogation-de-larticle-230-video/ Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty International November 2015

36 36   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

QPN[FQGUKVXKQNCVG.)$6+RGQRNGoUTKIJVVQRTKXCE[CPFPQP-discrimination, it also fosters violence against them, and cre
ates a permissive environment for homophobic and transphobic hate crimes as well as harassment and intimidation b
y family members
and others in the community. In turn, the violence can be more easily ignored because LGBTI people are less likel
y to seek justice and speak out about abuses for fear of being detained.  According to Damj, since 2011, 15 men, 
including four foreign
nationals, are believed to have been murdered in hate crimes. The organization has documented approximately 80 ca
ses a year of hate-motivated violence against LGBTI people on account of their real or perceived sexual orientati
on and gender identity, but
states that the true number is likely to be much higher. The homophobic nature of these crimes is rarely publicly
 recognized, which only emboldens perpetrators to commit further violent acts.  Activists told Amnesty Internatio
nal that, in many
instances, violence against LGBTI people is carried out by groups of youths, who are in some cases believed to be
 affiliated with Salafist groups. Such homophobic violence seems to have been on the rise since 2011. According t
o activists, this has
prompted many LGBTI people to leave Tunisia and seek asylum abroad.  Survivors interviewed by Amnesty Internation
al reported being assaulted in the street, in their homes and workplace, in some cases on multiple occasions by t
he same groups. They said
that they were repeatedly beaten and verbally abused. In some cases, they were subjected to suffocation attempts 
and burned with cigarettes. Openly gay and lesbian individuals and LGBTI activists reported facing constant insul
ts and harassment, and said
that they received death threats and threats of harm either in person or through social media. When asked by Amne
sty International if they complained about the abuses to the police, most explained that they were unwilling to r
eport the homophobic nature
of the crime for fear of being arrested and prosecuted. Those who found the courage to do so were often further v
ictimized by the police and told that they were responsible for bringing violence upon themselves.  Seeking justi
ce for many LGBTI survivors
of sexual and gender-based violence is especially difficult as they cannot rely upon their families for support. 

ARRESTS WITHOUT EVIDENCE Gay men in Tunisia are often arrested without any evidence that they engaged in same-sex
 relations, and hardly ever when caught in the act. Instead, most arrests are carried out based on gender stereot
ypes, such as appearance
and behaviour, with gay men who are considered effeminate and transgender women targeted most. Those interviewed 
by Amnesty International said that it is often enough for two men to be sitting in a car or walking in the street
 in an area known to be
frequented by gay men to be questioned, harassed and detained by the police. In many cases, gay men who conform t
o established norms of masculinity are released, while those considered effeminate are detained.  A 25-year-old g
ay man described his arrest
to Amnesty International:  At some point during Ramadan in 2014, I was in Tunis with a friend. We were near Amnes
ty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  37 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 Place Pasteur, which is known to be a meeting point for gay men. The police came and started talking to us. They
 asked us whether we were
working and then started searching WU6JG[VQQMO[HTKGPFoURJQPGCPFUVCTVGFNQQMKPIVJTQWIJJKs pictures. They saw a pho
to of him naked with make-up on. They took away his phone and took us both to a police station nearby. At the pol
ice station, they
slapped me twice, and beat my friend. They kept insulting us both. My friend ended up being detained for a month.
 He had to pay the police off so that they would not be bothering him. Men accused of engaging in consensual same
-sex activity are routinely
subjected to an anal examination by medical doctors. The test is usually ordered by a judge in an attempt to find
 pproofq of anal sex. There is no scientific basis for such examinations and they constitute a form of torture an
d other ill-treatment when
carried out involuntarily. Amnesty International believes that forced anal examinations contravene medical ethics
 enshrined in the Geneva Declaration of the World Medical Association and the UN Principles of Medical Ethics Rel
evant to the Role of Health
Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel,
 Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.58

In September 2015, the National Council of Tunisian Physicians, which monitors the respect of medical ethics in T
condemned any baseless forensic examination or examination carried out without the GZCOKPGFRGTUQPoU consent.59 Th
e judicial police in Hammam-Sousse had summoned Marwan for questioning on 6 September after officers found his nu
mber on the phone of a man
who had been murdered. According to /CTYCPoU lawyer, he confessed that he had homosexual relations with the man a
fter police officers slapped him and threatened to rape him and charge him with murder if he did not confess. On 
11 September, Marwan was
subjected to forced anal examination by the forensic department in Farhat Hached Hospital in Sousse at the reques
t of the court.  In theory the suspect may refuse the anal examination, but activists say that most men are unawa
re of their rights and feel
pressured to agree to the test. They are often intimidated by the police, and told that a refusal could be used a
s evidence against them. Transgender people face the additional risk of arrest and prosecution under laws that cr
iminalize indecency and
acts deemed to be offensive to public morals.60

58 See the World Medical Association Declaration of Geneva, available at: http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10
policies/g1/. See also UN Principles of Medical Ethics Relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Phy
sicians, in the Protection
of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, availab
le at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/MedicalEthics.aspx  59 See Direct Info,
available at: http://directinfo.webmanagercenter.com/2015/09/28/affaire-du-test-anal-sur-un-
homosexuel-communique-du-conseil-national-de-lordre-des-medecins-de-tunisie/  60 Article 226 of the Penal Code im
poses a six-month prison sentence on anyone found guilty of Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty Inter
national November 2015

38 38   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

A transgender woman told Amnesty International that she was arrested on suspicion of engaging in same-sex activit
y, but sentenced to six months in prison for offending public
that on 20 October 2012 she was walking on the street dressed in a skirt in the La Marsa neighbourhood in Tunis w
hen a police officer drove by and started sexually harassing her. She dismissed his advances, which prompted the 
police officer to ask for
her identity card. Upon discovering that she was born a man, he immediately arrested her. Her appeal against the 
sentence was rejected even though her gender identity is known and accepted by her family and community, and she 
served the entirety of the
prison term in a male prison. In 2012, Slim61, who describes himself as travesti, was sentenced to six months in 
prison for offending public morals (later reduced to two months on appeal). He told Amnesty International that he
 was arrested because he
was dressed as a woman while sitting with another man in a car. He explained:  We were just sitting in the car, d
oing nothing, but because my hair was much longer at the time and I was dressed as a woman, that was considered t
o be against morals. If the
police raid your house and they catch you while you are dressed as a woman, they will arrest you. That would be c
onsidered against morals. The police kept insulting me and in prison I faced a lot of beatings.  56#6'o5(#+.74'61
2ROTECT The failure of
the authorities to duly investigate and punish homophobic and transphobic hate crimes without discrimination unde
rmines the confidence of LGBTI people in the ability and willingness of the state to protect them. As a result, i
t makes them less likely to
report crimes, which in turn entrenches impunity.  Sharky, a 25-year-old lesbian woman from Tunis who suffered at
 least eight homophobic assaults over a period of nine years, decided to leave Tunisia and apply for asylum after
 she lost all hope of the
criminal justice system protecting her from abuse and bringing those responsible to account. The first incident h
appened when she was only 16. When she went to report it to the police, she was faced with discrimination and bla
med for her appearance. She
said:  I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and my head was shaved at the time. A guy came up to me; he did not lik
e my looks. He said, p9JCVoUWRYKVJ[QW!#TG[QWCIW[!&Q[QW
   like girls?q He was sitting in his car and drinking a bottle of beer. He got out and beat me with it. I went t
o the police station to complain, but they asked me why I go out on the streets dressed like this. They told me t
o go back home. I went back
and treated my injuries by myself.

intentionally undermining public morals, while Article 226bis imposes the same punishment for intentionally distu
rbing others in a way that offends the sense of public decency and attracting public attention on an opportunity 
to commit debauchery. 61
Pseudonym.  Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  39 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
ibiotics and
treated herself at home again. At the age of 19, JGTIKTNHTKGPFoUDTQVJGTUNCUJGFJGTUVQOCEJ accusing her of pturnin
assaults out of fear of being arrested. Her distrust in the police was such that she decided not to report a subs
equent assault by a group of three men in the centre of Tunis in 2014. It was only when she suffered another seri
ous attack that she decided
to seek justice, only to be failed by the system again. She continued:  This fifth asUCWNVJCRRGPGFQP/CTEJe 
As I was walking near the metro station I felt someone hitting me in the back. I dropped my bag and fell on my st
omach. There were
three men but I could not see their faces. They dragged me to a very dark alleyway. As they were beating me, one 
of them said he was sorry and then left. The others stayed and continued beating me. I could feel something metal
lic hitting my DCEMe They
were drinking and breaking glass bottles on my head. They pressed their boots on my body, they DGCVOGQPO[JGCFQPO
[PQUGeThey beat me so hard that blood got into my eyes. They knew who I was. They told me my name, where I live, 
where I work, what
my phone number is, where I go out. One of them wanted to stab me in the stomach and told me, pIf you want to mar
ry a girl, tell me how you are going to do it.q

   refused to escort me to the hospital. They said that I needed to take a taxi. We waited for CDQWVOKPWVGUeand
 then we went to the emergency department of the Military Hospital, which was nearby. I was in a lot of pain. The
 man who helped me left
the hospital. He was scared to be a witness. I only heard the attackerso XQKEGUCPFFQPoV
   know them. When I went to the police to file a complaint with my father, I complained against unknown people. 
 Following the assault, Sharky was examined by a forensic doctor at Charles Nicolle Hospital who established her 
incapacity to work for 30
days. She also started seeing a psychotherapist to deal with the trauma. She was subsequently attacked three time
s in April and May 2015. She recognized one of the men and believes that the same group was responsible for all t
he attacks. She reported
the assaults, but the perpetrators were never found and arrested. Instead, Sharky was summoned to present herself
 to the police in Sidi Bou Said and advised to drop the case if she did not want any problems. She told Amnesty I
nternational that she filed
complaints, but she was unable to raise the homophobic nature of the crime for fear of being arrested and prosecu
ted. Her fears were confirmed when police officers told her that in the process of the investigation, they had be
en monitoring her Facebook
account and phone calls, and found out that she was lesbian. They warned her that she could be sentenced to three
 years in prison while her attackers only risked a six-month prison term at most. The
RQNKEGCFXKUGFJGTVQUVC[JQOGCPFpMGGRCNQYRTQHKNGq She decided to seek asylum abroad. In another case, an LGBTI acti
vist told Amnesty International that police threatened to arrest him after he reported that he had been assaulted
 by four men in a
street in Tunis in late 2012. The men beat him, burned his arm with cigarettes and attempted to strangle him. At 
the police station, he was allowed to give a statement but advised to drop the case. The head Index: MDE 30/2814/
Amnesty International November 2015

40 40   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

of the police station allegedly said, p+VoUCHCgIQVUVQT[9GoTGPQVIQKPIVQYCUVGQWTVKOGYKVJ
that.q The police officer reminded the activist of Article 230 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex con
sensual sexual relations, and told JKOVQpIQJQOGqKHJGpwanted to live in peaceq  Following the first assault, the 
activist received
death threats when two groups believed to be associated with Salafists twice came to his house to tell him to see
k repentance or face punishment. He moved to Sousse.  Because same-sex activity is criminalized, LGBTI survivors 
of sexual violence are less
likely to report crimes and seek justice. They say that the risk of becoming the accused is far too great.
In late 2009, Hedi,62 a 37-year-old gay man, was arrested and prosecuted for engaging in same-sex activity after 
he reported an assault. On 29 December 2009, he was pushed into his car by three men. He told Amnesty Internation
al that one of the men
raped him in his car and stole his phone and money. In shock, he drove to a nearby police station to report the t
heft, and was referred to another station. While waiting, his boyfriend called him and he recounted the incident.
 When his boyfriend told
him to avoid a medical examination, he started shouting, asking what he meant. He continued:  At that point, I no
ticed that a couple of police officers were listening in on my conversation and reported it to the others. Their 
attitude changed
completelye After about 30 minutes, they brought the three men that had assaulted me. They had my phone. I heard 
shouting in the office and was then asked to come in and sign a statement. At that very moment, my parents were w
alking into the station.
The police officer told my father to wait and said that I just had to sign and would be able to go home. Iesigned
 the statement without reading ite

   I was arrested and placed in a cell at the police station. The three men that assaulted me were placed there a
s well. For two and a half days, I did not have the right to anything. I was not given any food, cigarettes, drin
ks, while those that
attacked me were getting everything... On the fourth day I was taken to court and then transferred to Mornaguia p
rison [in Tunis]. There, a police officer asked me if I was ill. When I told him that I didPoVWPFGTUVCPFJGUCKFVJ
CVKH+was homosexual,
I should be detained in another room. Hedi told Amnesty International that his statement had been changed to stat
e that he had been engaging in consensual sex with the three men. He was sentenced to six monthso
imprisonment but was released four months later after his sentence was reduced on appeal. Hedi said that the dete
ntion experience ruined his life. Rumours about him spread in his workplace, prompting him to resign.  In another
 case, a 21-year-old gay
student who was raped on 3 October 2015 by two men in a small town near Bizerte decided not to file a complaint. 
Activists who reported his case to

62 Pseudonym.  Amnesty International November 2015           Index: MDE 30/2814/2015

                                            ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED  41 Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia
 Amnesty International said that he was too scared of prosecution and of further rejection by his family. The man
 told a journalist why he

Gay men who report sexual assault usually conceal their sexual orientation to avoid police harassment. Chokri,64 
a 26-year-old gay man and salesman from Sfax, told Amnesty International:  Last year [2014], I was going out of a
 bar with a guy I did not
know very well. He had pepper spray on him and forced me to get in a taxi with him. I was very scared. In the tax
i, he kept touching me, and then asked the driver to stop to buy cigarettes. He got out of the car with my phone,
 and I begged the driver to
leave. I went to the police and accused him of theft and attempted indecent assault. The police took my statement
 and eventually caught him. They did their job but harassed me at every stage of the investigation asking me why 
I dress the way I do. The
guy tried to accuse me in court of being gay but I denied it, saying that I had no problems being subjected to a 
forensic examination [anal test]. He was eventually sentenced to eight months in prison.  ABUSES BY POLICE The cr
iminalization of same-sex
relations also makes LGBTI people vulnerable to abuses by the police, who often exploit their fears and subject t
hem to blackmail, extortion and, at times, sexual abuse. Gay men are forced to pay bribes to escape arrest, even 
though the police have no
   that you are less of a human... Once I was with a 45-year-old man in a car. We were just chatting when the pol
ice came and started to interrogate us. We each had to pay 25 dinars [approximately US$13] so that they would let
 us go.
Some gay men told Amnesty International that police officers exploit their vulnerability in order to harass and s
exually abuse them. A 20-year-old student from Sfax described his experience:  Once, I was walking with a friend 
on the street in Sousse. I
was wearing very attractive clothes, a low-cut shirt and tight trousers. I was wearing make-up and had blow-dried
   I was doing with a man aged 30. I said that he was just a friend. They then asked me what was up with my eyes 
and called me pOKDQWPq [pfaggotq]. One of the police officer VQQMOGVQJKUECTCPFCUMGFOGVJGUCOGSWGUVKQPUe He started
 searching me,
and while he was doing it, he was touching me up. When his assistant left, the police officer asked me HQTO[PWODG
T*GTGKP6WPKUKCKH[QWoTGIC[ you live under police control.

63 See Nawaat, Moi, A.A. 21 ans, ViolÚ et culpabilisÚ, 17 October 2015, available at: http://nawaat.org/portail/2
015/10/17/moi-a-a-21-ans-viole-et-culpabilise/ 64 Pseudonym.      Index: MDE 30/2814/2015                 Amnesty
 International November

42 42   ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED   Sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia

Given that homosexuality in Tunisia is generally considered shameful, many LGBTI people do not reveal their sexua
l orientation or gender identity to their families and communities, and live in fear of being exposed. This makes
 them more prone to threats
and blackmail. A gay man from Djerba told Amnesty International:  Once a police officer took my number and then k
ept calling me, harassing me and VJTGCVGPKPIOG*GYQWNFUC[p$Gcareful, I will tell your family.q*GYQWNFECNNOG
   every time he drank, and ask me to come over to his place wanting to sleep with me. In Sousse, I still face th
reats but not as much as in Djerba. The police always come and ask me for money or for my

 Activists demonstrating at the first gay pride march in Tunis, March 2015 (Photo: Mawjoudin, We Exist) CONSTRAIN
TS ON ACTIVISTS The criminalization of same-sex activity constrains the work of LGBTI activists, undermining thei
r efforts to prevent and
address violence against LGBTI people on account of their gender identity or sexual orientation. It also prevents
 the establishment of adequate support structures and undermiPGU.)$6+RGQRNGoUTKIJVVQJGCNVJRCTVKEWNCTN[KPVGTOUQH*
prevention.  Despite the positive reforms after the end of