Love in Tunisia
Love in Tunisia

Children in Tunisia
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Tunisia
General Information

Children in Tunisia are not cuddled and cared for as extreme, often overaggerated, as in many western countries, but are rather treated as "normal", though small and young, family members.

Even though there is a change in thinking in the higher educated class, children are usually not being much entertained. Parents are not playing with them intensively, children are not much encouraged or sponsored in the artistical or intellectual fields, and their day is largely structured by their natural sleep/wake cycle (eg. they also spend the evening/night together with their parents until they fall asleep and are then be put to bed).
The television in Tunisia, which is almost everywhere continously running, executes often the role of a baybsitter.

All Tunisian adults take care of children, eg. take them for a moment on their arms and speak with them. However, this constitutes in no way the often by tourists expressed assumption of "special love for children".
Children of all ages are rather constantly "there" in just about every home and are therefore seen as a natural part of the environment.

Children in Tunisia may, in contrast to some European countries, be beaten - but this is only lawful if committed by the guardian.

Children become of legal age at the age of 18. However, if they are umarried, they will, in reality (not by law), remain under the authority of the parents, and for many, this applies even after the marriage.

School

Children are usually enrolled at the age of 5 or 6 and will then go through a mandatory 9-10 year high school, of which the first 6 years are considered to be primary school.

Religion

Each child of a Muslim father receives by birth automatically the religion "Islam".

The father is responsible to teach the religion to his child, and to enforce it with boys around 7-9 years of age and with girls around 11-12. This is often the time, when the father, if divorced, claims full custody for his children.
Custody

After a divorce in Tunisia, like in Europe, both parents of a child are awarded custody and it is usually exercised by the mother (because the child usually lives with her).
However, there are rights in Tunisia, which always remain with father.

For example, a muslim father always has the right to determine the place of residence for his children.
As a result, a child cannot leave the country, even not together with its mother, without the written approval of the father.

This explicit approval can not be overridden by a prenuptial agreement (or a "permanent consent" clause) - the father can, at any time, even in the last minute, change his mind.

In other words: the mother has the "right" to raise her child, but the father is the custodian and decides in all legal matters on behalf of the child.

Binational Children

The so-called "abduction" of a child by its muslim father in a muslim country is, under the laws of these countries, not an "abduction", but the legal exercise of the paternal rights.

Tunisia has not signed the "Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction".

The bottom line is that a father can refuse his child at any time (until it is of legal age) to leave Tunisia.

A western woman receives the custody of her muslim child in Tunisia only as long as she

1) lives in Tunisia - and -
2) she guarantees that the child is educated in accordance with islamic principles and in a morally proper environment

A mother might, for example, loose the custody when she remarries to a non-muslim or even when she lives unmarried together with a man.

Children of a Tunisian father, no matter where they are born, have always automatically (also) the Tunisian nationality/citizenship and will be considered during a stay in Tunisia only being Tunisian nationals who may enter (and leave) only with tunisian identity documents.
Since 2010, the same ist true for children of a tunisian mother.

This means that western embassies will not be able to intervene in case of any problems (they only can do that for citizens who do NOT have the citizenship of the host country).
Maintenance

Parents are fully liable for their dependent children, and this maintenance always comes first (prior to maintenance obligations towards parents, grandparents, etc.).

Child Benefits

The monthly Child Benefit in Tunisia is

- for the first child 7.320 dinars
- for the second child 6.506 dinars
- for the third child 5.693 dinars

Beneficiaries will receive the payment together with their wages.

Boy and girl

While boys enjoy usually a great freedom in behaviour and actions, girls are being prepared in early years already for their later role as a housewife and begin gradually to take over work in the house.

Freedom and leisure activities of girls are usually strictly regulated and controlled by the family, violations will be punished.

One consequence of this education is that girls rank, in the social development in the family (chores, organization of family, child education, etc.), well ahead of most western girls of the same age, but they are very naive and inexperienced when it somes to relationships with the opposite sex. This represents often a lag of 4-5 years behind western girls of the same age.

In Tunisia, the schools do not offer a "sexual education" that is comparable to western countries and in the families, this topic is a taboo as well.

Boys, one the other hand, are even at young age treated with servility in the family, including by their sisters, which is forming their experience of an higher "value" and dominance.

Gaining experience with the opposite sex before marriage is not encouraged in boys, but  socially accepted - while the same is, for girls, totally unacceptable.

(c) 2009-2012 Tunisia Love