Editor’s Note: “Don′t touch my rights” 😉 . The new constitution of Tunisia recognizes equality between the sexes for the first time in country’s history. However, it was a constant struggle for Tunisian women. On August 13, 2012, thousands of Tunisian women took to the streets capital to protest an article from the draft which proposed that women are “complementary” to men, instead of equal. As the picture above shows, they shouted slogans and held posters with messages like “don′t touch my rights” and “woman is the future of man”
Author: Dr. Abdul Ruff
Edited & modified by Divas
Tunisia has approved a new constitution on January 26 three years after the Arab Spring experience that toppled Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime.
The constitution, approved Sunday on a 200-4 vote, was expected to be signed by the president, prime minister and Assembly speaker.
As one of the most secular nations in the Arab world, Tunisia has struggled since the revolt, with divisions over the role of Islam and the rise of ultra-conservative Salafists, who the “secularists” feared would try to roll back the “liberal rights”.
While the new constitution recognizes Islam as the country’s religion, it also enshrines freedom of conscience and belief, and equality between the sexes.
The new constitution sets out to make the North African country of 11 million people a “democracy”, with a civil state whose laws are not based on Islamic law, unlike many other Arab constitutions.
An entire chapter of the document, some 28 articles, is dedicated to protecting citizens’ rights, including protection from torture, the right to due process, and freedom of worship.
The constitution guarantees equality between men and women before the law and the state commits itself to protecting women’s rights.
The completion of the constitution is also a tribute to the assembly’s disparate parties to compromise and negotiate to reach a consensus.
The moderate Islamist party Ennahda, which holds more than 40 percent of the seats in the assembly, backed down on putting a number of religious-inspired measures into the constitution in the face of wide opposition.
At times the constitution looked like it would never get written, with numerous walkouts by different parties and at one point a complete suspension of its activities in the wake of the assassination of a left-wing deputy in July.
In the end, Ennahda made concessions to the opposition and stepped down in favor of a caretaker government to manage the rest of the transition, allowing the constitution to be completed.
Tunisia’s new constitution as well as the progress the new system has made contrasts sharply with messy transitions in Libya, Egypt and Yemen which are still caught up in turmoil after ousting their own long-standing leaders in 2011 revolts and uprisings.
After the historic vote, the red and white Tunisian flag was unfurled and assembly deputies embraced, danced and sang inside the chamber in Tunis to celebrate the charter, which has been widely praised for its inclusiveness.
Just before the constitution vote, Mehdi Jomaa appointed a caretaker cabinet as part of a deal to end a crisis between Tunisia’s Islamist party and its “secular” opposition until new elections this year.
Tunisia seems to move towards reconciliation of political parties. After the vote, in what many saw a symbol of compromise, Mongi Rahoui, a deputy from the assassinated leaders’ party, embraced Habib Louz, an Ennahda hardliner.
Ennahda chief Rached Ghannouchi said of the charter that these advances in Tunisia should have a positive effect on the other Arab Spring countries.
While the constitution itself will not solve the country’s persistent unemployment, rising prices, crushing debt and constant demonstrations, it’s hoped to move politics forward and reassure foreign investors that the country is back on track after a rocky transition.
Political observers hope Tunisian unity will send out a message of stability after months of deadlock between Islamist and secular forces.
The Western nations including the USA & EU favor the new political developments in Tunisia.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon also hailed the agreement as a historic milestone.