Tunisian Women Stand up for Gender Equality in Inheritance
More than 1000 women marched in the streets in Tunis Saturday to demand equal inheritance rights for both sexes following a debate that left the Tunisian society divided.
The current Tunisian inheritance law is based on Islamic jurisprudence, which grants women half of what it gives men in inheritance, while making men financially responsible for women.
The protesters, joined by few men, chanted slogans saying “In a civil state I take exactly what you take”, demanding that men and women be treated on an equal footing in inheritance.
The inheritance debate took a heated turn after President Béji Caid Essebsi advocated inheritance law reform, on the occasion of Tunisian Women’s National Day last August saying “we will find a way to reconcile religion and constitutional principles. The inheritance is an issue for humans. God and His prophet left humans to manage these issues”.
Such an announcement was met by opposition in conservative circles of the Tunisian society. Some Muslim clerics described gender equality in inheritance as “a flagrant violation” of Islamic precepts.
In his address on the occasion of Women’s National Day, President Beji Caid Essebsi also called for the repeal of the law, which prohibits Tunisian Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men and for amendments granting women equal rights as men, including those governing women’s inheritance.