Human Rights Watch said in a report that poor implementation of the law passed five years ago puts women at risk of violence.
Authorities in Tunisia have not done enough to protect women from domestic violence even though the country passed progressive legislation five years ago, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). .
“Authorities have not systematically responded to, investigated and protected women who reported violence,” the New York-based human rights group said in a report released on Wednesday. Five.
Tunisia passed Law 58 in 2017 to tackle domestic violence against women and it was seen as a pioneering initiative, but the HRW report said enforcement was “insufficient” has made women in this North African country unsafe.
The law broadens the definition of punishable violence, to include sexual harassment in public places. It also aims to ensure legal, financial and social support for survivors.
Kenza Ben Azouz, the author of the HRW report, said that the 2017 law was generally “very strong”, but added that there could be amendments to the law, such as a clear recognition of sexual violence in couples.
It is worrisome, she added, that the law is not being fully implemented due to “insufficient funds allocated for its enforcement”.
Ben Azouz told Al Jazeera from the capital Tunis that women in Tunisia are “lacking absolute protection and lack of practical mechanisms… Many guarantees have not been made”.
‘Poor data collection and economic and social pressures on women’
Similarly, the director of HRW in Tunisia, Salsabil Chellali, said poor law enforcement puts women at risk of violence.
“Five years after the enactment of this ambitious and progressive document, the actions of the authorities are still not enough” in protecting women, she told AFP news agency.
Tunisian police in 2021 recorded nearly 69,000 complaints of violence against women, but “however, the true extent of domestic violence is difficult to assess, partly due to poor data collection and economic and social pressures on women to endure male violence,” the report stated.
The report notes that about 130 specialized police units have been established since the law was passed in 2017, but the women interviewed by HRW “reported that police do not regularly explain to them the circumstances of the case.” their rights and choices [and] refute their complaints.
According to the report, officials have also urged women to “make peace with their abusers or accept family reconciliation instead of pursuing a criminal case.”
Inadequate access to emergency shelters, especially in rural areas, “means women needing to flee an abusive family,” the New York-based rights group said. There will be nowhere to go unless they have the resources.”