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TV sequence sparks polygamy row in Tunisia

TUNIS: A Ramadan TV sequence coping with polygamy has sparked a heated debate in Tunisia, an Arab pioneer in girls’s rights that banned the follow many years in the past. “Baraa” (Arabic for “innocence”) has additionally been criticized by means of rights activists and secular politicians for its portrayal of commonplace “orfi” marriage, non secular unions now not sanctioned by means of the state.

Each practices are punishable by means of as much as a yr in jail below the rustic’s 1956 circle of relatives code. However in a single episode, the sequence’ major personality, Wannas, proclaims to his spouse and kids that he has the suitable to marry a 2nd lady below Islamic regulation, which “trumps all different regulations”. The sequence, aired at high time after observant Muslims destroy their daylight speedy, has sparked a backlash on social media. “It’s disappointing to peer those topics being debated,” stated Tunisian actress Mariem Ben Hussein.

Publish-independence chief Habib Bourguiba outlawed polygamy within the circle of relatives code handed simply 5 months after the rustic’s 1956 independence from France, a work of regulation that used to be not anything in need of modern within the Arab global on the time. It additionally modified the regulation in order that divorce circumstances needed to move throughout the courts, which means a husband may just now not merely claim a wedding over.

‘Out of the query’

Tunisia’s 2011 insurrection, which overthrew Bourguiba’s successor Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, introduced in a parliamentary device ideologically divided between secularists and Islamist-leaning events corresponding to Ennahdha. The strongly secular Unfastened Destourian Birthday party (PDL) based by means of one-time individuals of Ben Ali’s ruling celebration has been one of the most loudest voices towards “Baraa”, pronouncing that “placing those questions again at the desk is out of the query” and an affront to ladies’s dignity.

The PDL additionally blames Ennahdha, politically dominant after the 2011 insurrection, for a upward push in “crimes” below the circle of relatives code and has ceaselessly known as for its rival to be dissolved. Rights staff Aswat Nissa (“Ladies’s Voices”) stated polygamy and common marriage had been “kinds of violence towards girls” and that discussing them “normalizes a tradition of impunity”.

The crowd has prompt the rustic’s broadcast regulator to take this system off the air. However sociologist Mohamed Jouil stated the sequence does “now not essentially replicate Tunisian society”. “Speaking about polygamy and orfi marriage doesn’t threaten the features that ladies have made,” he advised AFP. Jouil added that many Tunisians fortunately speak about such problems in personal however are angered when they’re aired in public-where commentators are “instrumentalising” the problem for political acquire.

‘Matter of discussion’

Civil servant Nadia Abdelhak agreed. “The over-reactions to the sequence are seeking to persuade those that the entirety associated with Islam is backwards,” the 28-year-old stated. Sociologist Foued Ghorbali stated that whilst the topic stays taboo, polygamy remains to be a subject in Tunisia. After Islamist actions grew following the 2011 insurrection, “non secular marriage was extra commonplace” specifically amongst college scholars in search of “halal” intercourse, he added. “Some Tunisians make stronger commonplace marriage,” he stated. The justice ministry stated courts tested 1,718 circumstances of orfi marriage between 2015 and 2020 within the nation of 12 million folks.

Additionally, the liberty of speech that got here with the top of Ben Ali’s dictatorship allowed folks in choose of such practices to overtly say so. In early 2018, a bunch of girls held a protest to call for the re-legalisation of polygamy. Such controversies must be mirrored within the arts, Ghorbali stated. “It’s now not the function of drama to provide a favorable symbol of society. It could possibly display a viewpoint or phenomena in society that may be a topic of discussion,” he stated.- AFP

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