Tunisia: Divorced women are subjected to discrimination and humiliation (testimonials and analysis by an expert)

06-17-2022

Married immediately, immediately divorced! According to the latest statistics going back to 2020, 46 divorce cases are announced daily in Tunisia, and for the majority of couples, women are the origin of the demand.

If divorce really persists, the image of divorced women still suffers from a negative view of Tunisian society, despite its apparent modernity.

In fact, the traditions of Arab-Islamic culture are still firmly rooted in the minds of the people. A woman separated from her husband pays the consequences in her daily life, and certainly for the rest of her life, like a visible, indelible scar.

To find out more, we collected absolute testimonies and analyzed sociologist Tarek Belhaj Mohamed.

“why divorce? What are you missing? »

A decade-long love affair followed by a happy marriage, an unplanned but well-received pregnancy, and finally the birth of a spoiled and lovable child. This is the story, worthy of a fairy tale, lived Mary, she has been separated for 4 years now.

“At first everything was going well…we were happy and in love. Then I gave birth and what would have been the culmination of our couple, but it became hell for me,” she tells us bitterly and nostalgic. She explains that her husband’s outlook has changed since the birth of her son. She was no longer his wife, but only the mother of his child. No more picnics, no more weekends, no more happy moments…but the inevitable descent into a routine where everyone becomes a stranger. “He never wanted me to go back to work. My role was limited to the kitchen, to my son and to cleaning the house. So I decided to leave.”

“why divorce? What are you missing? Her mother repeated it tirelessly. “What I missed was sharing life as a married couple,” Maryam says.

According to sociologist, Tarek Belhadj Mohamed, the increase in the number of divorces in Tunisia is a side effect of social modernity. People today have the audacity to free themselves from marriage. Divorce is no longer a problem in itself. The problem is social representations, perceptions and practices, especially towards divorced women.”

Women alone are responsible for the success and failure of the couple!

We also met Donia, 44, who is divorced and has no children. “The idea of ​​a divorce came to me after 3-4 years of marriage but I didn’t have the courage to make that decision right away. I was afraid of the reaction of my family, his family, and society in general. I took it all on myself. I tried to find solutions with my wife so as not to come to this. But at some point, she decided to divorce,” she told us.

According to the sociologist, even today, a woman is seen as the only one responsible for the failure of the spouses. “We consider it his responsibility to make the marriage work regardless of the challenges, obstacles, or behavior of the partner. You must be patient.” As the good old saying goes: “Be kind to the spirit.”

“The decision to divorce a woman is not easy in Tunisia. Above all, my husband and I were considered a financially and socially stable couple. We had no children because he had a medical condition and I was afraid that people would think I got a divorce because he could not have children. But no That was not the reason,” Donia adds.

Everyone agrees that Tunisian society is modern, tolerant and open, but it maintains deep down its attitudes Cultural and psychological conservatives. Thus, in the case of separation, society is more tolerant with men than with women.

“The divorced woman is still seen as a disgrace, especially towards her family. Society prefers that she suffer, and live a difficult and violent marital life, than that she divorce her, because she is reprehensible from a social point of view, and it may lead her to a kind of social discrimination that would put her in the face of symbolic violence. society,” adds Mr. Belhaj Mohamed.

An independent woman, an easy woman!

After a divorce, a woman must make a choice that divorced men do not have to make. Go back to the parents or take their independence and live on your own. In most cases, under family pressure, they return to their relatives.

This is what Mary did for a few months. “I went back with my son to live with my father. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that it was a mistake. They controlled my coming and going and interfering with my son’s education.” After 6 months of cohabitation, Mary decided to leave to live about sixty kilometers away, despite her parents’ disapproval.

“Even today, we consider that a divorced woman cannot be independent. She is either with her family or with a husband. The pressure she has been under to return home is a form of protection, as if she cannot protect herself on her own,” the sociologist deconstructs .

For Dunya, settling on her own was palpable. “Once I got married and left home with my parents, there was no way to go back. I needed to be alone to understand and find myself. It was also a reason I didn’t want a divorce. I was afraid of being forced to go back to my parents,” she said.

For those who decide to settle on their own, society’s perception of them becomes more reflective. Indeed, in the collective imagination, it is believed that a woman alone and free of her virginity makes her transition to the status of “easy woman”. “

“Society assumes that without the protection of a man he is in a vulnerable and precarious position and within the reach of men who may exploit this vulnerability. As a burden in the eyes of her family, we imagine that she can now go through more experiences of divorce than as a young girl,” says Tariq Belhaj Mohamed.

“My mother is very disappointed with my situation. Dunya states that her biggest wish is for me to remarry or even get back with my ex-husband.

Used woman!

“One day, a man I was in a relationship with called me a second-hand woman,” Maryam laments. An expression that reflects the extreme social violence that divorced women are subjected to.

In fact, the question of rebuilding one’s life or getting married anew remains a sensitive and almost taboo topic in our society. A situation that Dunya has had to face recently. “After breaking up, I started a relationship with a guy. Everything was going so well that I told myself that I could start my life with him. But for her part, I’ve always felt that there are certain brakes on my status as a divorced woman because her family is rather conservative,” he said. To me sometimes, “You’re still young,” “You can still start your life over” … As if he was giving me advice and setting himself completely outside our romance and not caring,” we say.

According to the sociologist, a divorced woman experiences real social separation when it comes to the possibility of rebuilding her life. “There is a form of social rejection when it comes to a man’s marriage to a divorced woman, even in cases of separation.”

Indeed, for a divorced man, it will be easy to find a wife who has never been married before or even much younger than him. While for her part, a divorced woman will have to face the reluctance of the family of her potential partner who will find it difficult to understand her decision to marry a woman who has already gone through a first experience.

In addition, some divorced women experience behavioral changes in their professional environment or within their circle of friends. Dunya tells us about it. “I have one of my best friends, who no longer has the same attitude towards me since I broke up. Her husband doesn’t want us to see each other or hang out like we used to.” The undoubted fear is that her friend Dunya will “contaminate”, which would put the divorce on the rank of an infectious disease.

The young woman also notes that since her divorce her superiors have increased her workload, considering that she has fewer responsibilities than her colleagues who have a husband and children.

It’s as if the woman made a huge mistake. It is as if she got out of the prison of marriage and entered another form of prison, a society where no one is tolerated,” concludes Belhaj Mohamed.

All these testimonies show that there is indeed a rupture between the modern way of life imposed by today’s society and the frozen classical mentality, imposed by the outdated traditional culture.

Clinical Wissal

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