Under Islamic law, daughters get half of what sons get. Some fear an extremist backlash. Tunisia remains the engine of change in the Islamic world.
Tunis (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hundreds of Tunisian women have taken to the streets to demand equal inheritance rights, opening the debate again on the issue, often discussed in the Islamic world.
Like in most Muslim-majority countries, Tunisia’s current inheritance system is based on Sharia or Islamic law, which gives daughters only half of what sons get.
The march, which was held last Saturday amid tight police security, reached the Tunisian parliament.
Protesters want the law to ensure the same inheritance for sons and daughters, noting that Tunisian society has evolved, and that it can remain Islamic whilst modernising its laws. Some men also marched with the women protesters.
“We have to stop considering this subject taboo,” said Amina Rekik, a leader of the opposition Machrou’ Tounes party.
“It is true that Tunisian women have more rights compared to other Arab women but we want to be compared with European women,” said activist Kaouther Boulila. “We just want our rights,” she explained.
Some worry that such changes could stir up extremist anger in a country that has already suffered from terrorist attacks.
In August, President Beji Caid Essbsi, a secular politician, set up a committee to draft proposals to advance women’s rights in an effort to modernise and adapt legislation to the new democratic constitution. The committee is expected to deliver a report in June.
Tunisia has already set an example in the past for the Muslim world when it adopted laws soon after independence from France in 1956 abolishing polygamy and granting women many rights.
Last September, the Tunisian government also recognised the right of Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men.
The country has been praised for being the only success story of the 2011 Arab Spring, that led to the overthrow of the Ben Ali regime.
However, the granting of new political freedoms has been followed by disappointing economic growth and high unemployment, which have led to the emigration of many the very young Tunisians who participated in the revolutionary movement.