News / Europe

Feminist Activists Target Tunisian PM's Visit to Brussels

Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh (L) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy participate in a press conference at the EU Council building in Brussels, June 25, 2013.Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh (L) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy participate in a press conference at the EU Council building in Brussels, June 25, 2013.
x
Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh (L) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy participate in a press conference at the EU Council building in Brussels, June 25, 2013.
Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh (L) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy participate in a press conference at the EU Council building in Brussels, June 25, 2013.
Selah Hennessy
The head of the European Commission has called on Tunisia Prime Minister Ali Larayedh to reform the country's criminal laws to give equality to all. Feminist activists helped draw attention to the Tunisian situation during Larayedh’s visit to Brussels.

Topless female activists called out “Stop the Repression” as a Tunisian delegation drove from European Union headquarters.

Another two women climbed on top of the motorcade before being dragged off by security officials.

The activists are from the group Femen. Earlier this month, three members of the group were jailed in Tunisia for staging a protest in support of a detained Tunisian feminist.

European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso spoke Tuesday at a joint press conference with Larayedh.

Barroso said the European Union is calling for a reform of laws inherited from the previous regime, particularly in the criminal code, to ensure freedom of speech for Tunisian men and women.

Tunisia’s justice system, he said, should be overhauled to ensure its independence and impartiality so the country can achieve a “full and deep democracy”.

Tunisia has long had some of the most liberal laws on women’s rights in the Arab world. But women’s freedoms have been under the spotlight since a revolution in 2011. Tunisia's government, led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, has had to deny allegations that women’s rights are at risk.

Lisa Watanabe from the Center for Security Studies in Zurich, Switzerland, said no concrete steps have been taken to roll back women’s rights, but sometimes debate goes in that direction.  

“There was a proposition made by some members of parliament that belong to the major party within the coalition to include a clause in the constitution that they were complimentary, rather than equal to men, in terms of family life,” said Watanabe.

That clause, she said, was dropped because of a public outcry.

Regardless, she said the European Union has little influence over the inner workings of Tunisia’s justice system.

“Tunisia does have an association agreement with the European Union, so in terms of putting pressure on Tunisia, it may have some degree of influence in terms of demanding some conditionality to funding, but I do not think it can put a great deal of pressure on the government, to be frank,’ said Watanabe.

On Wednesday, an appeals hearing is set to take place in Tunisia for the European Femen activists. They all have been sentenced to four months in jail.

You May Like

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to the Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid