Tunisian MP Jailed for Sexually Harassing a Minor
Zouhair Makhlouf, Tunisian Member of Parliament, was sentenced to a year in prison for sexually harassing a minor in 2019, among women's rights groups' welcoming.
A Tunisian member of parliament was sentenced Friday to a year in prison for sexually harassing a schoolgirl, the victim's lawyer said.
Zouhair Makhlouf, an independent member of the suspended assembly, was photographed in October 2019 sexually harassing the victim in the coastal city of Nabeul.
The high school student, who was a minor at the time, said Makhlouf had followed her to school.
The victim's lawyer, Naima Chabbouh, said Makhlouf had been found guilty of indecent assault after a court session that went late into Thursday evening.
The images that showcased Makhlouf harassing the victim, which went viral on social media, sparked an unprecedented outpouring of testimonies of sexual harassment.
Makhlouf was originally charged with sexual harassment before the indictment was reduced to indecent exposure. Later, it was bumped up again under public pressure.
Reacting to Friday's ruling, women's rights group Aswat Nissa said it was "pleased with this historic judgment."
"This sentencing represents a triumph for the feminist movement in Tunisia and for all survivors of gender-based violence, as it puts an end to the culture of impunity," it said in a statement.
Tunisia women empowerment
It is worth noting that Tunisia is seen as a pioneer in the Arab world in terms of women's rights.
According to Antonius Verheijen, World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia, "Tunisian women have played a greater role in the country's development" since the enactment of the Personal Status Code in 1956.
Tunisian women have a literacy rate of 72%, and Tunisia scored 4th in terms of gender equality in the MENA region, mentions Verheijen.
An increasing number of women handle managerial positions in the Tunisian public and private sectors.
In July 2017, the country made sexual harassment in a public space punishable by a jail sentence of up to a year.
On September 29th, Tunisian President Kais Saeid named Najla Bouden to form the new government, making her the first woman appointed to form a government in Tunisia and the Arab world.