The European Union has lauded a new Tunisian law that aims to fight against gender-based violence in the country. Brussels says that this ambitious law is a decisive step towards absolute respect for human rights and equal opportunities. The European External Action Service (EEAS) commented that “the Assembly of Representatives of the Tunisian people took a big step forward in the process of democratic transition through the unanimous adoption of an ambitious law against gender-based violence”.
The new piece of legislation also stresses the country’s global vision that protects women from physical, moral, sexual, economic, and political violence. One of the biggest improvements that the law brings is closing of a legal loophole under which rapists could have escaped justice by agreeing to marry their victims. Moreover, rape is no longer only restricted to female victims and the law also increases the age of consent from 13 to 16. The Tunisian authorities also confirmed that “the withdrawal of the victim’s complaint does not mean the cessation of judicial proceedings or the execution of the sentence”. The new legislation will also initiate the establishment of a department within the police force that will be trained to fight sexist crimes and deal with their victims.
The EU sees the move as a “long-awaited” reform that follows up on the implementation of the Tunisian constitution and reinforces the country’s respect for international commitments to promote human rights. “The European Union fully supports this process and maintains its commitment to the Tunisian people in the effective implementation of this law,” the EEAS added. Tunisia’s human rights and women rights lobbying groups lauded the new law as “turning the page in the history of the country”, after it was unanimously adopted by the Tunisian Parliament last week.