Tunisians march against violence toward women

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Several hundred mostly women protesters rallied in the Tunisian capital on Saturday against violence targeting women, urging authorities to act to ensure their rights.

Demonstrators marched through the city center, waving brooms to symbolize the sweeping away of violence against women.

The march was called for by some 50 local NGOs including the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD).

Some protesters beat on drums and others rapped on pans, chanting “Solidarity with women victims of violence!”

The march followed an incident in October in which a newly elected lawmaker was shown in a video that purported to show him masturbating outside a school.

MP Zouheir Makhlouf said he is diabetic and had been urinating into a bottle.

He walked free after being investigated for alleged sexual harassment and public indecency.

The video went viral and sparked Tunisia’s own #MeToo movement, with sex abuse victims breaking taboos under the hashtag #EnaZeda.

It was inspired by the huge global movement that emerged in 2017 in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Demonstrators on Saturday carried posters bearing slogans such as “Equality between woman and man doesn’t kill, violence kills.”

“We want to see a real mobilization by the authorities to end all forms of violence against women and to be firm with perpetrators of such violence,” said protester Selma Bhar.

An awareness campaign about sexual harassment on public transport was launched in Tunisia at the end of October.

A law was enacted in July 2017 outlawing sexual harassment in public places and laying down a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a 3,000-dinar ($1,000) fine.

But despite this, few women in Tunisia file complaints after such crimes.

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