Tunisia Calls For Equal Inheritance Law But What About Nafaqa?

Published August 14th, 2018 - 12:21 GMT
An image was taken from protests in Tunisia for women celebrating the president's proposal for an amended inheritance law that grants women equal rights with men. (AFP)
An image was taken from protests in Tunisia for women celebrating the president's proposal for an amended inheritance law that grants women equal rights with men. (AFP)

By Randa Darwish

Tunis streets have witnessed several protests during the last few days dividing people between supporting and opposing a proposed equal inheritance law. The law was proposed by the Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi in Parliament coincides with Tunisian Women's Day, on 13th of August.

“I propose equality inheritance to become law,” President Beji Caid Essebsi said in a speech, leaving the final decision to a Parliamentary vote.

While the current system in Tunisia is based on the Islamic law, which grants males double inheritance of what females receive, it was opposed by women rights groups as a discriminatory law that opposes their efforts to achieve equality among Tunisians.

However, the proposed law leaves the door open for freedom of choice. It allows individuals to choose if they want their allocations to be shared based on the Islamic law or not, which gives no reason for conservatives to oppose it.

The proposal sparked debate among Tunisians who were divided between welcoming the proposal and supporting women equal rights in accordance with the Tunisian constitution that limits the role of religion. They also went to protest in celebration and support with amending the law.

On the other hand, conservatives opposed any changes on the law that might be seen as challenging the Islamic laws and questioning the laws of Nafaqa, that oblige men to provide the financial support for the wife during marriage and for a time after divorce.

Translation: “Men are responsible of the alimony more than women, how come they are equal if the man needs more money to spend on women!”

On social media, the news was praised with several hashtags went trending among Tunisians, such as  المساواة حق موش مزية that stands for: “Equality is a Right, Not a Privilege” which is the slogan used by supporters of the proposal.

Equality Now, an international human rights organization that has been advocating for Tunisian women rights to acquire equal inheritance law has also welcomed the proposal.

Tunisia has been considered the only Arab Spring success story after ousting the longtime dictator Zein el-Abedin Ben Ali. Since then, moderate Islamists and secular leaders were seen ruling the country trying to achieve the democratic changes and economic reforms aimed by Tunisians in the revolution.

Tunisia has been a pioneer among countries in the region with amending laws for more equal rights to women. The post-revolution constitution in Tunisia has also granted women more equal rights than before.

It repealed the law that allowed rapists to escape the punishment if married their victims, introduced a new stricter law against women abuse and overturned the ban on Muslim women from getting married to non-Muslims.

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