UPDATED: Reuters Errs on Polygamy, Contraception in Women’s Rights Poll

By Afef Abrougui | Nov 12 2013 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

Tags: MENA ,Polygamy ,thomson reuters foundation ,women's rights
Graphic from Thomson Reuters Foundation's 2013 "Women's Rights in the Arab World" Poll. Screenshot.

Graphic from Thomson Reuters Foundation’s 2013 “Women’s Rights in the Arab World” Poll. Screenshot.

Tunisians had harsh words for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, after noting inaccuracies in their latest report on women's rights in the Arab world.

The survey which was released on Monday erroneously stated that polygamy remains widespread and contraception is illegal in the country.

Tunisia was the first country in the Arab region to ban polygamy under the 1956 Personal Status Code. Abortion has also been authorised since 1973 and contraception is legal and available.

This year’s survey was Thomson Reuter's third annual women's rights poll on the state of women in the Arab World.

The foundation polled 336 gender experts, including activists, human rights, media, and development professionals, academics, healthcare providers, shelters, and legal advisers.

According to the poll's findings, Egypt ranks the lowest in the Arab world, with Comoros coming in first.

The Tunisian twittersphere countered the report.

Nessryne commented on Thomson Reuters' twitter bio which describes the foundation as a the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.

Hours after publication, Thomson Reuters updated the initial report. The piece now states that contraception is legal, but polygamy is spreading in Tunisia. The report does not elaborate on their findings.

Updated: (6:00 p.m. November 12, 2013 )

Tunisia Live contacted Thomson Reuters Foundation for clarifications about how they conducted the survey.

The survey is an expert perception poll and as such is only based on the opinions of respondents, who were chosen for their general expertise on gender issues, Thomson Reuters said.

To respect respondents' anonymity, the foundation declined to give names of the gender experts surveyed on the situation of women's rights in Tunisia. They did, however, give a statement regarding their updated article.

Tunisia did not allow polygamy but after the revolution and the rise of Islamists, polygamy has been secretly practiced by Salafis “ though never officially recognized, Thomson Reuters explained.

In a second email, Thomson Reuters provided these anonymous responses from the survey:

There are a lot of women who serve as members National Constituent Assembly and honestly they are a disgrace. Those women are pro-polygamy, shariah law and having women role defined as “complementary” to men in the drafting of the constitution.

¦When you go back home with a second wife and your first wife is sitting right there, you reduce her esteem to half, to third and to fourth.''

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    This reminds me of all the non- 60 Minutes news reports jumping on the “Lara Logan screwed up”bandwagon for trusting a really bad source on the 9/11 Benghazi attacks. But this report is exactly what the Reuters Foundation deserves. To report “polygamy remains widespread” and then to backtrack and say it is practiced by Salafis who are a very small subset of the population shows they messed up big time.

  1. It is also ridiculous that Egypt is last– women’s status in Egypt is certainly better than in Saudi Arabic, Sudan, probably others. They clearly did not use objective criteria for their rankings!

    • Not to defend SA or Sudan, nearly 100% of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed in Egypt, and not a single man has been prosecuted. This is a well-known fact… just google sexual harassment egypt and you will see. But yeah, Sudan must be terrible, and what about Yemen?