Professor Lina Ben Mhenni of the University of Tunis – also known as blogger A Tunisian Girl, composes a harrowing account of the treatment of female protesters in Tunis during the demonstrations earlier this year:
But in the middle of this peaceful march, some angry individuals penetrated the group of demonstrators and started chanting extremely disrespectful slogans like “Go back to your kitchens, you whores.”
They compared us to Leila Trabelsi – the wife of the ousted president who is generally believed to be responsible for all of the oppression and injustice from which Tunisians suffered for 20 years. “What more do you want, you bitches? Do you want to become men?”
They even tried to assault some of the women. A mother who was there with her two daughters was addressed by one of these crazy individuals: “I’ll enjoy your body tonight, you bitch.” But thanks to the patience and intelligence of some of those who were taking part in the march, these isolated individuals were prevented from interrupting us any further and they left the march.
(Hurrah! for the decent citizens of Tunis, then.)
While much has been written on the treatment of women during the Egyptian uprising and their prospects thereafter, relatively little analysis has been dedicated to the Tunisian case.
Certainly, Tunisia is making great strides in terms of gender equality – swift ones, too, as the move towards equal gender party members revealed.
Touted in the press as the first ‘country in the Arab world to do so’ (hmm… How many European countries can boast the same?), Tunisia is moving in the right direction.
But Lina’s report reminds us that chauvinism is never far off; it may not have been covered, but it continues to lurk.
Perhaps it is the actions of a few, though it is still an aspect to be watched as the new nation unfolds.