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Tunisian women protest to demand equality in inheritance

Ⓒ AFP – FETHI BELAID – | Tunisians, mostly women, march to Tunis to demand gender equity in inheritance, March 10, 2018

More than a thousand Tunisians, mostly women, marched Saturday in Tunis to demand gender equality in inheritance, chanting that it was “a right, not a favor.”

“This is one of the last bastions of patriarchy” in Tunisian law, said Sana Ben Achour, academic and president of a women’s support association, Beity. “There must be equal rights as it was provided for in the Constitution” voted in the wake of the 2011 revolution, she said.

The mere fact that the debate is in full swing, it is already a victory, assured Monia Ben Jemia, president of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, who hopes the vote of a law in the year to come.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi revived last August the debate on this sensitive issue, saying that Tunisia was heading inexorably towards equality “in all areas”.

This would involve amending the inheritance code so that men no longer systematically inherit double what is bequeathed to women, a measure based on Islamic law.

This issue remains taboo in the Arab world, and several polls suggest that a majority of Tunisians are opposed to equality in inheritance.

Saturday’s demonstration in the capital brought together women from across Tunisia.

For Rahma Jawadi, president of the Rural Women’s Association of Jendouba, a poor agricultural region in the north-west of the country, “if we vote for this law and the woman takes her rights on the land, she can develop herself. will be able to do agriculture, she will have an income, “without contradicting religion.

Ⓒ AFP – FETHI BELAID – | Tunisians, mostly women, march to Tunis to demand gender equity in inheritance, March 10, 2018

Equality in matters of inheritance is one of the files entrusted to the commission for individual liberties, set up by the presidency to reform laws, directives and other texts hindering these freedoms.

Its report originally scheduled for February, and postponed to June, should advocate a policy of small steps, said a member of this commission on condition of anonymity.

The commission could thus propose to the families who wish it to be able to choose to distribute “equally” the inheritance between sons and daughters, without imposing this equality in the law.

A first bill that went in this direction had been tabled in 2016, but had not been debated.

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