EU lauds new Tunisian law on gender-based violence

Tunisia's new law increases the age of consent from 13 to 16. [Paolo Omero/ Shutterstock]

The European Union has praised a new and “ambitious” law against gender-based violence in Tunisia, which is a “crucial step towards absolute respect for human rights and equal opportunities”. EURACTIV Spain reports.

“The Assembly of Representatives of the Tunisian people took a big step forward in the process of democratic transition through the unanimous adoption of an ambitious law against gender-based violence,” the European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a statement.

For the EU, it is a “long-awaited” reform that reflects the implementation of the Tunisian constitution and respects the country’s international commitments to promote human rights.

“The European Union fully supports this process and maintains its commitment to the Tunisian people in the effective implementation of this law,” the EEAS added.

Auditors find ‘shortcomings’ in EU aid to Tunisia after Arab Spring

The EU gave Tunisia some €1.3bn in aid after the Arab Spring without properly checking how all of it was spent, according to a report published today (28 March) by the Court of Auditors.

Civil society celebrates new law

Tunisia’s main human rights and women rights associations lauded the new law as “turning the page in the history of the country”, after the law was unanimously adopted by the parliament on 26 July.

The new legislation outlines a global vision that protects women from physical, moral, sexual, economic and political violence, particularly the most vulnerable women.

One of the most notable amendments to the current law included closing a legal loophole that used to allow rapists to escape justice by agreeing to marry their victim. The age of consent has also been increased from 13 to 16. Rape as an offence is no longer restricted to just female victims.

A statement also confirmed that “the withdrawal of the victim’s complaint does not mean the cessation of judicial proceedings or the execution of the sentence”.

The new law will also set up a department within the police force that will be trained to fight sexist violence and deal with the victims of gender-based crimes.

Erasmus+ could do more to promote gender equality

Projects promoting gender equality as part of the Erasmus+ programme have a strong positive impact, according to a French study. But the programme’s future commitment to equality is in doubt. EURACTIV France reports.