We have often discussed the plight of women in the Middle East where they are often treated as chattel and denied basic rights and privileges. A story this week out of Tunisia therefore may not surprise the readers of this blog but it again shocks the conscience in giving a glimpse into the desperate existence of many women. The victim in this latest case was pulled from a car with her fiance by three police officers. As the boyfriend was taken to withdraw money from an ATM and robbed, the other two officers took turns raping the woman. When she filed a complaint, the police responded by arresting her for public indecency. So much for the balanced scales of justice on the country’s coat of arms.
The couple had been parked on September 3rd in Tunis when the officers set upon them. Her complaint and the public outcry forced the police to charge the officers with rape, but the department then arrested her after the officers, for the first time, alleged that the two were in an “immoral position” in the car. Both the man and woman were charged with “intentional indecent behavior” and are now facing six months in prison.
The Tunisian government has repeatedly charged both reporters and human rights activists with “public immorality” and “public disorder.” It has also refused demands from the U.N. Human Rights Council to rescind discriminatory laws against women.
Tunisia has also seen widespread anti-American protests where President Obama has been called an “Ape” and thousands chanted their allegiance with Osama Bin Laden. This occurred after the White House celebrated its close friendship with Tunisia and how Tunisia “ignited” the Arab Spring movement.
The rape case of this woman should be an international cause for justice and galvanize the movement for greater rights for women in Tunisia and other Muslim nations.