Tunisia: Bill on Gender Equality in Inheritance in the Pipeline

Tunisia: Bill on Gender Equality in Inheritance in the Pipeline

Tunisian President Béji Caid Essebsi on Monday announced the introduction of a draft bill on equal inheritance for men and women, making Tunisia the first country in the Maghreb to offer this right to women.

Beji Caid Essebsi made the announcement in a televised address marking the National Women’s Day—the anniversary of the 1956 Personal Status Code (CSP).

The gender equality in inheritance was first suggested by a committee, which had deliberated on the issue for about a year.

The issue triggered heated debates and angered Islamist groups in the North African nation. Some opponents have threatened to stone the members of the committee set up by President Béji Caid Essebsi. Imams have been preaching every Friday against the text of more than 200 pages that evoke sensitive issues.

In addition to equality in the inheritance, the committee proposes the end of the dowry (condition of the consummation of marriage), the abolition of the death penalty, the decriminalization of homosexuality (punishable by three years in prison) and the end of the anal test practiced to prove sodomy.

Essebsi in his address on Monday said he was responsible for all citizens and that any changes “must take into account the feelings of the Tunisian people.” At the same time, he stressed that changes must be made. The text will be presented to the Parliament at the end of the parliamentary recess in October.

In Tunisia, Women make up a sizable percentage of the workforce in public and private sectors, and hold 75 out of 217 seats in parliament.

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