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Friday, March 16, 2012

Feminism in Tunisia

     A panel discussion held at Unisa University in Pretoria on International Women's Day, aimed at discussing women's involvement in the Arab Spring, offered some intriguing facts on the history of feminism in Tunisia.
     Two in particular stood out for me, both date-related.
     First, in 1962, women in Tunisia were allowed access to birth control.
     Second, and more significant, in 1965, abortion was legalized - eight years before Roe v. Wade.
     Though Tunisia's path to gender equality has been as rocky and back-slide prone as any - for which the dictatorship of Ben Ali did no favors - it pays to be mindful of the places where light shone through, especially in regions so often construed as lightless.
     It's worth noting, also, that the abolition of monogamy and the establishment of a minimum age for marriage were among Tunisia's first legislative maneuvers upon independence from France in 1956.
     Now, as before, the struggle continues.    

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