All articles of CEDAW have been ratified. However, the Tunisian government declared that it shall not take any organizational or legislative decision in conformity with the requirements of this Convention where such a decision would conflict with the provisions of Chapter I of the Tunisian Constitution.
- the Tunisian Constitution acknowledges the commitment to international treaties. Article 20 establishes that the international treaties ratified by the parliament have supremacy over the laws. However, the same article adds that these treaties have an inferior status to the one of the Constitution.
- the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex or gender. Article 21 states that all citizens, male and female, have equal rights and duties, and are equal before the law without any discrimination, without mentioning the causes of discrimination.
- the Constitution includes specific provisions on women’s rights and gender equality. It guarantees women’s representation in elected bodies (Article 34), equal opportunities between women and men to have access to all levels of responsibility in all domains, parity between them in the elected assemblies (Article 46), and gender equality between males and female citizens (Article 21).
- the Constitution adopts affirmative measures to achieve equal participation of women and men in public life. However, it does not make the State’s commitment an obligation to achieve a result, but rather to conduct due diligence. The State works to ensure women’s representation in elected bodies (Article 34) and seeks to achieve parity between women and men in elected assemblies (Article 46). However, the electoral law includes a provision on parity for the parliament and local elections.
The main laws that are not in line with international obligations pertaining to women rights are as follows:
- The penal code does not criminalize marital rape. The law on eliminating violence against women criminalizes sexual violence regardless of the perpetrator and his relationship to the victim, but it does not explicitly criminalize marital rape.
- Article 236 of the penal code considers sexual acts out of marriage an offence.
- Article 231 of the penal code criminalizes prostituted women. The law does not provide them with protection against violence and exploitation they are subjected to.
- The personal status code provides that women’s share of an inheritance is less than men’s.
- The labour law includes legal restrictions on women’s employment in undertaking night work, mining, and scrap metal work.
There is a comprehensive law on combating VAWG (Law on Eliminating Violence against Women of 2017). Article 3 criminalizes sexual violence, whatever the perpetrator’s relation to the victim is, meaning that marital rape would be included, but it does not explicitly criminalize marital rape.
Some forms of VAWG are criminalized under different laws. Rape and FGM are criminalized under the penal code. Penal code also criminalizes sexual harassment in general, whether it is committed in public, private, or workplace.
Polygamy is criminalized under the personal status code. Other forms of VAWG that are not comprehensively criminalized include: marital rape, early marriage, inequality between men and women in inheritance, sexual harassment in the workplace.
There is a specific law addressing VAWG (Law on Eliminating Violence against Women of 2017). The law includes the four dimensions pertaining to the elimination of violence against women: prevention, protection, prosecution, and support. The law does not explicitly criminalize marital rape. (See indicator 4).
Other laws relevant to combating different forms of VAWG include: the penal code 1913, the personal status code 1956, the nationality law 1956, the anti-trafficking law of 2016 and the law on elimination of all forms of racial discrimination of 2018.
The specific law on eliminating violence against women of 2017 defines the violence against women as “every physical, moral, sexual, or economic harm inflicted on women based on gender discrimination that causes physical, psychological, sexual, or economic harm, pain, or damage to women, and also includes the threat to bring about such harm, pressure, or denial of rights and freedoms, whether in public or private life.” It also includes the threat of attack, pressure or deprivation of rights and freedoms, whether in public or private life. Marital rape is not included in the definition of sexual violence.
The parliament does not perform oversight role on public legal awareness on laws of VAWG.
Article 13 of the law on eliminating violence against women of 2017 guarantees the right of women victims of VAWG to legal advice and obligatory judicial aid.
The right to sexual and reproductive health is guaranteed by laws and abortion is legal. Abortion is authorized during the first trimester of pregnancy by a physician legally practicing in a hospital or healthcare establishment or authorized clinic.
It is also permitted after three months if there is any concern that the continuation of the pregnancy might cause harm to the woman’s physical or mental health, or if the fetus is expected to develop an illness or a serious disease.
The protection of women and girls from abusive partners during marriage and divorce remains incomplete in the existing laws.
- The law on eliminating violence against women and the penal code do not explicitly criminalize marital rape.
- The inheritance, which is based on Sharia rules, does not guarantee the same rights for women and men.
The law on eliminating violence against women of 2017 offers women legal protection from marital rape but does not mention it explicitly (see under indicator 4). The law defines the sexual violence as any act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by coercion regardless of the relationship to the victim.
The law on eliminating violence against women prohibits sexual harassment of women in public places. The penal code criminalizes sexual harassment in general, whether it is committed public, private, or workplace. (Article 226 (3)) The labour law does not criminalize sexual harassment in the workplace.