Tunis, Tunisia – No one can ignore the fact that the world currently stands in a nerve-wracking state of dystopia. Current economic, political, cultural, and natural upheavals besetting mankind have to be endured morally. And in such challenging times, it is women generally who bear the brunt of these calamities. In a patriarchal society, which is hallmarked by male dominance and total feminine submission, women are therefore subject to violence, either physical or verbal.
Amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and in an effort to stem the spread of the pandemic, many governments around the world have taken strict measures like social distancing, the lockdown of cities, and confinement. As time goes on these measures have proven effective in curbing down the number of positive cases, but quite harmful to people’s mental and psychological health. People from all walks of life have shown their inability to adjust themselves to these rules and their repercussions.
The rising tide of domestic violence is but one aspect of the negative side of this pandemic. And in this regard, Tunisia is no exception. Over the span of the last three weeks, the number of cases that saw women getting physically or verbally abused has risen remarkably, according to Mrs. Asma Shiri Laabidi’s, Minister of Women, Family, and childhood. During the period between 23 – 27 March 2020, the number of phone calls received by the women-abuse monitoring call center has grown threefold, with the number standing at 133. In an interview on Mosaïque FM radio on Sunday, 29 March 2020, Mrs. Shiri has indicated that 35 calls from 133 were clear-cut cases of domestic violence. In contrast to the figures from last year, only 7 calls were recorded back-then. What makes the situation quite alarming is the presence of cases where women refuse to disclose domestic violence cases due to cultural reasons. In a bid to address this latter problem, Mrs. Shiri has announced that a new center will be at the disposal of such women, in a bet to encourage them to stand such calamity. And in this regard, any woman who meets the requirements to join this center will be put in a sanitary self-isolation quarantine of 14 days.
I believe personally that all enacted laws that aim to combat violence against women in Tunisia over the last six decades have to some extent proven to be ineffective. I believe we are facing an acute problem, and eradicating it needs the unveiling of a well-thought and devised action-plan.