The law criminalizing violence against women: between the people and the elite

The gap that separates the Arab elites from their peoples, brings us back to the painful for researchers and politicians the question: why are the aspirations of the peoples distinct from the thinking of the elites? How can we overcome this gap? What if people will reject their elite and create another? In this case, the questions become even more: how you can create a new elite, without undermining influence of the current elite (far from people)? Is it enough to just wait out the time to do it safely, determining the direction of movement of the new elite and a new society?

Such issues were raised during the discussion and adoption of a law criminalizing violence against women, which was approved by the Parliament of Tunisia at the end of July, turning it and the initiators of the adoption of the law the object of ridicule in social networks. Representatives of non-academic middle class in the social networks actively criticized those who monopolized the right to call themselves elite just on the grounds that you possess a scientific degree or belong to the aristocracy.

The bill as a reason to laugh

“On the criminalization of violence against women” is the title of the law, but if you read the text, we find it quite funny the part where it is written that any word to the women, said in public and hurt her dignity, is a crime, which entails corporal punishment, and a fine of up to a thousand dinars (one Tunisian Dinar is 25,28 the Russian ruble as of August 3, approx. ed.). The imagination of the legislators went beyond the reasonable, because it turns out that if public transport full dam will give way, and it somehow touches his dignity, as let me remind you about her excess weight, then this situation can be seen as a crime against her.

In this article we will not engage in a legal debate about the definition of public space where you can meet woman and man, however, it is obvious that it is women who decide what words offend her, but what could be spoken in conversation: it is the dominant party in a situation when a man expresses admiration for its beauty or its intention to enter into the marriage. The legislator has retained her right to interpret the situation and give evidence in favor of a crime, which is another reason to laugh. Who will testify to committing a crime that entails a punishment? Can the state put a policeman behind every woman, or she will be enough to say that she’s telling the truth, and the man is lying? Again, the law is on the side of women, and all judges can do is to resort to the Quran to separate the truth from lies.

It was obvious that the text of the law was prepared by a woman for women, and it expresses only one point of view, although the discussion was male. It seemed that the members of Parliament were afraid of those who put forward the bill, but in fact it was adopted for political reasons. Did this elite, which dominates in the field of Finance, politics and culture and is able to impose their vision of the state and society without any understanding of what the real status of women in this society and what they really want.

Violence is a crime, but a greater crime is poverty

The left wing elite has exchanged congratulations in connection with the adoption of the law, considering it a great success for which women of Tunisia struggled for a long time, when suddenly there were those who began to criticize the immoral behavior of women, arguing that it is the reason that they were persecuted.


The position of the parties beyond the ideological conflict that exists in the country between left and their enemies — the Islamists. The last was against the bill, while the left celebrated the victory (left block advocated the adoption of such a law back in the 80s, but they failed to submit it to the Parliament under Ben Ali, although the Islamists were then in jail). However, despite all the controversy, the bill was passed by Parliament, which is dominated by Islamists.

Yes, violence is a crime, but a greater crime than poverty and destitution which lead to many others. This understanding is not as the left and right, as well as in all the elite circles which secured a livelihood. They have no reason to commit violence against their wives and children, but there is a lot of time to think about society free of violence, without considering poverty as one of the main reasons.

This brings us to what we must realize to the full discovery of the link between poverty and violence is not the invention of the Bicycle. This is a lesson for our society, and particularly for social workers who need to learn this lesson and to understand that tackling poverty is the main key to solving all other problems. Including those associated with any types of violence not only against women.

The elite believe the opposite. She believes that if you enact a law against violence at home or outside, it will stop automatically, under threat of the law society will be better. So, Muhammad Sharafi, a major theoretician of left-wing and the teacher wrote the law, which was happily accepted by all circles, which included in the curriculum at all law faculties.

The law will make society better if it will be based on the idea that if you eliminate poverty, violence will cease, however, this argument does not serve the interests of the elites who think that they live in Plato’s Republic, in which there is nothing but enjoyment.

Between the Arab elites and their peoples there is a gap. So educated people think that their education allows them to lead the illiterate and ignorant people who have no choice but to obey. And people live with daily cares, in his own world.

Turned on its head — the image of peace in the minds of the elite

For this reason I explain the difference between those who fight against social crime with laws, and those working to eliminate its causes. Parliament approved the criminalization of violence against women, but had forgotten about the political violence, and the violence of the elites against society, because he is part of the elite, which it aims to implement (it does not matter that the Parliament includes Islamists, liberals and leftists, because they are all members of the elite). Tunisian elite sees the world upside down on its head, she is a disciple of the French elite that killed God and took his place.


© AFP 2017, Fethi BelaidСолдаты provide security at the polling stations in Tunisia

Bourguiba (graduate of the French University) did the same thing, the current elite sees it as a small God, who first came up with to make changes in text and established this idea in the minds of the elite, still seeing the world through the prism of the texts and not what it really is.

Violence against women is social violence, and criminalization “part” of this violence without effort from the elite will not produce reforms in the state, because the state is not built on the basis of texts, and a long labor. In this Tunisian elite is no different from the elites of other Arab States that are copies of what made Bourguiba.

The gap will widen because the legal initiatives such as the criminalization of violence against women will not end violence. Today we see that violence is increasing (see how many divorces in Tunisia), because the law can not help the spouses, who fight for reduce income families.

The country is impoverished, violence continues, and women are victims not because they’re women, but because they are part of a poor society. In the meantime, we’ll have to wait till the left wing elite, justifying their wages, will develop another bill, which forty years later would be adopted by Parliament, consisting of Islamists.