Amina, the Tunisian activist who gained notoriety after uploading topless photos of herself to Facebook, is safe at home with her family, according to her lawyer Bouchra Bel Haj Hmida.
She is not missing and “has never been in a psychiatric facility,” Bel Haj Hmida told Tunisia Live, contradicting reports that surfaced last week and have been widely circulated on the internet.
Amina has been corresponding since February with members of Femen, a feminist group that originated in Ukraine and uses topless protest to fight for women’s rights.
Bel Haj Hmida, who is also a well-known Tunisian women’s rights activist, told Tunisia Live that Amina is going back to school and said that she needs to be left in peace. She declined to provide further details of Amina’s situation due to lawyer-client confidentiality requirements.
No legal charges have been filed against Amina, continued Ben Haj Hmida, adding she could be handed a maximum six-month sentence if convicted of public indecency. The Tunisian penal code’s provisions on such offenses are very subjective, she said.
Amina’s actions, she added, have been misinterpreted and were not meant to have any sexual connotation.
Online support has continued to grow for Amina’s cause. Over 80,000 people have signed a petition on the liberal website Change.org demanding that Amina’s “life and liberty are protected and that those who have threatened her be immediately prosecuted.” The petition is a response to the statements of Islamic conservative leader Adel Almi last week calling for her to received “80 to 100 lashes” and stating that she deserved to be stoned to death.
Facebook pages supporting Amina have sprung up where women upload topless photos of themselves bearing slogans such as “Free Amina.”
Tunisian filmmaker Nadia el Fani, director of the controversial film Neither God nor Master, has also joined the movement. She posted a picture of herself on her Facebook page with “freedom” written in Arabic on her forehead and “for Amina” written on her arm in French. She bares one breast painted with an Arabic word meaning “dignity.”
Salma Bouzid contributed reporting