UN rights experts encourage Tunisia to follow up lifting of marriage ban with more action on equalit
Tunisia is being encouraged to do more to tackle discrimination by a group of UN experts* who have welcomed the abolition of a ban on Muslim women marrying men who are not of the same faith. “Tunisia has now taken a further step towards achieving its constitutional guarantee of equality between women and men,” said the experts in response to the lifting of the ban on 13 September.
Civil servants have been forbidden by administrative circular dating back to 1973 from registering any marriage between a Tunisian woman and a non-Muslim man. However, there was no similar ban for Tunisian men marrying non-Muslim women.
“This discriminatory provision did not only contradict the Tunisian Constitution, but was also in breach of the country’s international human rights obligation under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), to ensure equality between men and women, including the same rights for marriage,” said the experts
“Tunisia has made significant strides in eliminating discrimination against women, with a ground breaking constitution in 2014 which established a rights-based framework for gender equality. These achievements are the result of a long history of women’s activism and government led reforms,” added the experts.
Tunisia has lifted all its reservations under CEDAW and has also enacted a comprehensive law to deal with violence against women, which among other things repealed a statute under which rapists could marry their minor victims to escape prosecution.
The experts welcomed the continuing progress saying: “We strongly encourage the Government to maintain the positive momentum and tackle all remaining discriminatory provisions and practices that deny women equal rights with men. These include matters such as relationships in the family, divorce and custody of children, as well as unequal inheritance law.”