A coalition of civil society organizations have ramped up efforts to combat sexual harassment.
The campaign, titled “One Day … One Struggle,” aims to raise awareness on women’s’ rights and the reality of sexual harassment in public through a series of social media posts, public outreach campaigns and open conversations on the topic.
A number of organizations in the MENA region have joined arms on the project, including the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD), Mawjoudin, and the gay rights pressure group, Shams.
In Tunisia, where crude remarks and suggestive catcalls are commonplace in public spaces, a majority of Tunisian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
According to a recent study by the Tunisian Center for Research, Study, Documentation and Information on Women (CREDIF), over 24% of women have been harassed in public over 10 times, whereas over 22% have been the victims of inappropriate sexual contact.
In August, Tunisian Minister of Women and Family said that 53 percent of all Tunisian women have suffered some form of street violence.
“Whether you are veiled or half-naked, you will be subjected to sexual harassment,” said one woman interviewed by Tunisian media.
“I am scared of the metro,” added another, referencing the frequency with which women are harassed during their ride.
According to Najma Kousri Laabidi, a coordinator in ATFD, the main goal of the latest campaign is to advance the “sexual and corporal rights of women.”
This year alone, Laabidi said, nearly 300 women across all social and economic backgrounds have come forward with their experiences of sexual violence and harassment.
While the Tunisian government has introduced legislation that would severely punish perpetrators of sexual harassment–allowing them to be sentenced to up to two years in prison if convicted– activists are skeptical that such a law would be regularly implemented, and that further reforms are needed.
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.