Target: Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki
Goal: Drop charges leveraged against woman raped by policemen and ensure guilty officers face consequences
Protests have erupted in the streets of Tunisia in response to the unjust treatment of a woman claiming to have been raped by police officers. Rather than investigating the woman’s complaint, Tunisian judicial officials have charged the woman with indecent exposure, acting on claims made by those very same police officers. The Tunisian judicial system’s refusal to protect this woman and seek the truth behind her accusations speaks to both the corruption and the disregard for women’s rights and safety inherent in the system. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki must intervene or else bear the burden of leading a country where rape is not seen as a serious offense.
The first shocking element of this case is the accusation that police officers, rather than protecting innocent civilians, attacked them. The aforementioned woman and her fiancé were approached by three officers while in their car in the capital city, Tunis. Two officers raped the woman and the third took money from her fiancé after a forced visit to a nearby ATM. The second shock came when the woman filed a complaint charging the officers with rape and extortion: the officers replied saying they had found the couple in an “immoral position” in the car, a charge that could land the two in prison for up to six months.
Both sides plead innocent and the court hearings are expected to continue. Yet, perhaps the most shocking piece of this whole puzzle is the implications it holds. Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring, still struggles in building a truly democratic society. In September, opposing an U.N. Human Rights Council recommendation, Tunisian officials upheld laws that blatantly discriminate against women. Now, with this new case in the courts, there are fears that women will stay silent about sexual abuse, afraid of facing accusations rather than being treated as a victim.
Tunisia must build a society that values and respects women, and where this case is concerned, that begins by admitting that rape is a grievous crime. Ask President Marzouki to punish the perpetrators and see that the woman involved receives the justice she deserves.
Dear President Marzouki,
Recently, a woman who came forward to accuse three police officers of rape and extortion has herself been accused of indecent exposure. Rather than protecting an innocent victim, the Tunisian courts have accused and slandered her, and justice and truth have yet to be served.
A truly democratic society can not succeed if the judicial system is so heavily stacked against the women of your country. Furthermore, women cannot feel safe bringing true concerns before the courts if they fear being accused of crimes themselves.
Reform is necessary. I ask that you see that this woman receives the justice she deserves and that this injustice is never again repeated.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Felix Tusa via Flickr