Thursday, October 04, 2012

Tunisian Rape Victim Accused Of "Indecency" By Her Rapists

Tunisia, although secular and modern until the Islamists took power after the Arab Spring, was still a Muslim country, and women were therefore subject to mistreatment, as they often are under Islam. And, not surprisingly, they still are suffering at the hands of  a male chauvinist religious culture.

Take the 27-year-old woman who was in a car with her fiancé when the two were "apprehended" by several policemen. After demanding money and handcuffing the fiancé, they proceeded to rape the young woman in the back seat of the car. Now she's being hauled in to face a judge after the two reprobate rapists accused her of "indecency", and is therefore being victimized twice. Many think it is simply a tactic to intimidate the woman into dropping charges against the two police officers.

At least she has a lot of pissed off people advocating for her, including planned protests on the day the police have their court appearance.

Leading human rights, feminist groups and other prominent members of civil society have formed a committee evening to co-ordinate a campaign in support of the woman, including the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women and the Tunisian League of Human Rights.

Faïza Skandrani, the head of the Equality and Parity organisation, told Al Jazeera that the case was an important one for two reasons: it marked the first time a woman allegedly raped by the police had taken the case to court, and it was the first time the authorities were trying to publicly shame a woman into dropping such charges.

"The investigating judge is turning her from the victim to the accused, to help the police officers get away with it," she said. "I've heard about similar cases in Pakistan, but this is a first in Tunisia. Next they will be charging her with prostitution."

And activists have taken to social media to get their message out there, regarding planned protests.

A Facebook page supporting the protest called on Tunisian couple to bring signs saying "We love each other: Rape us!" More than 1,200 people had confirmed that they would be attending at the time of writing.

There are also calls for a nationwide "Women's strike" in the public sector on Tuesday.

Many Tunisians expressed their solidarity with the woman online, writing "Rape her then judge her" on the ministry’s Facebook page. The messages had been deleted at the time of writing.

Apparently, Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali's regime was equally oppressive when it came to women's rights, and some blame the current problems on the fact that the interior ministry has retained a bunch of Ben Ali's cronies with no efforts to reform or investigate the security forces, which have been blamed for rapes, torture and other abuses.  Nothing seems to have changed.

There have been many reports of police bullying ordinary citizens, including reports of them accusing women of prostitution in an attempt to solicite money.

Khaled Tarrouche, a spokesperson for the interior ministry, told the AFP news agency that the ministry "had nothing to do with" the proceedings against the young woman, emphasising that the decision to summon her was taken by the magistrate.
"In this case, we acted as was required of us. What had to be done was done, and the three police agents were arrested straight away," he said, insisting that cases of police assaulting women were "isolated".
"We shouldn't read into this anything organised, or generalised," he added.
"The police are also citizens first and foremost, and when they commit crimes, the law is applied unequivocally."

Faiza Skandrani, of the Equality and Parity organization, said

"This is a drop in the ocean of the problems we've been fighting.  Each time we close one door, they open another. The revolution was about freedom and democracy, not about undermining women's rights. They want to build a society where women can be used and treated like objects and where the man is always right."  
The woman also has an advocate in Karima Souid, an MP who belongs to Ettakatol, a centre-left party, that is part of the ruling coalition with the Islamist Ennahdha Party.

"I completely dissociate myself from this government. The rape case and the summoning of the victim this morning is the last straw," she wrote on Facebook.

Source:  Al Jazzeera 

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