The host of a popular television program has dismissed calls to boycott his program, after he drew public condemnation for seeming to demean the experience of an alleged rape victim on his show.
“I did no wrong, and I have nothing to apologize for,” Alaa Chebbi, host of the program Andi Mankolik told Tunisia Live. “I will continue to work, work, work.”
The episode in question was broadcast last Friday, and featured the story of a 17-year old girl who spoke of being repeatedly raped and assaulted by relatives. Chebbi’s behavior on the program sparked widespread outrage on social media after he seemed to trivialize and belittle the alleged rape victim’s account, insisting she “committed the mistake” and that her only solution is “marrying the rapist.”
Speaking to Tunisia Live, however, Chebbi insisted that the girl had not in fact been raped, but had consented to the sexual behavior on multiple occasions. Chebbi claimed that a medical report backed this conclusion.
At the time of writing, Tunisia Live has been unable to identify any form of medical test that can confirm a rape has not taken place.
While the television station, Al-Hiwar ettounsi has agreed not to rebroadcast the episode and has pulled its content from all social media accounts. critics are demanding that the station goes further, reports African Manager.
Several organizations dedicated to women’s rights and civil society have launched an online campaign, including a petition calling for the boycott of the television station and that Chebbi be prosecuted for his comments. The petition also states that the program may have breached the rules set out by HAICA, (Tunisia’s independent governing body for audio-visual programs) relating to the rights of children, (the alleged victim featured on the program was a minor at the time of broadcast).
HAICA convened on Monday to discuss the controversy surrounding the episode, but it is currently unclear what action, if any, the organisation will take.
According to the HAICA’s website, the body is authorized to employ a variety of disciplinary measures following public complaints, including the issuing of official warnings or fines, suspension of a program, seizure of equipment, or removal a station’s license altogether.
Chebbi, however, dismissed the threat of action by HAICA and questioned the organisation’s credibility, claiming that this is the tenth time the organization has contacted him with regard to complaints receive. Chebbi confirmed that he would continue in his work as a television host of some 20 years standing.
This summer, Al-Hiwar ettounsi–the channel in question–was warned by HAICA after broadcasting what was deemed inappropriate material on its popular series “Ouled Moufida.” The governing body ruled that the channel must broadcast the show only after 10:00 PM and include a recommendation that it not be viewed by those under the age of twelve.
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.