Love in Tunisia
Love in Tunisia

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Tunisia
General Information


Women are traditionally responsible for the family area and clean the house, cook the meals and educate the children.

Although at higher levels of education, a change of mind emerges, and, in poorer families in Tunisia, the Tunisian women often have to work as well, it is widely desirable for women not to work, and to be only a housewife and mother.

These roles are supported not only by tunisian men, but also by women.

It is certainly a convincing argument that the work opportunities for women in Tunisia are often limited to industrial activities (production help) which mean low wages and low social status. Another argument is, however, the reluctance of most men to accept it, that the woman earns independently money (and to keep it for herself, because the husband is legally obligated to maintain her), that the woman is working with male colleagues.

Unlike in some other states with islamic societies, in Tunisia, the husband cannot forbid his wife to work or to roam freely in public - even though in many cases, in reality, both takes place or is strongly encouraged by the husband.

Whether the lack of job opportunities for women is the reason for women to prefer to take on the role of a housewife, or whether it is the fact that most women are housewives, that results in less jobs being offered for women, remains an open question.

There are, though, a variety of government programs with the aim to create jobs for university graduates, which are mostly women, but these efforts do not match the demand - and this is the reason why ultimately, a good percentage of well-educated women take up the traditional housewife role.
Women usually marry between 18 to 26 years, with an high education sometimes even up to about 30. Thereafter, however, the marriage chances of a woman decrease considerably, The reason for this is primarily that it is highly desirable that a woman gets many children at an early age.

To have children in Tunisia is a central element in the everyday world of women. Only a woman who has children of her own, is accepted by the society as a "real" woman who can lead a happy life.

Women over 30 can usually marry only much older men.

Marriages with men who are more than 1-2 years younger than the women are theoretically possible and in accordance with the example of the religion's founder (Muhammad married an older woman) seen as positive. In reality however, such marriages are extremely rare and rather being considered socially negative.

There is, for example, a folklore saying that women reach the "peak" of their lifes in their 30s, while men in the 40s or even 50s.
Nevertheless, the life expectancy of women is in Tunisia, like in most countries, a couple of years higher than that of a man.

The virginity of a woman is mandatory until her marriage and will, in some regions, traditionally being reviewed after the wedding night (bloody sheets).
Even when, in reality, many women collect sexual experiences before their marriage, this is still socially not acceptable. The non-virginity of a woman is a valid reason for the cancellation of a marriage. The medical "restoration of virginity" before marriage is therefore not rare in Tunisia.

Unlike in some other Arab countries, the consent of the father in the marriage of his adult daughter is not required in Tunisia.
However, a woman will resist her father's wish  only in rare cases, for such opposition may lead to an expulsion from the family - and this would, in the event of failure of the marriage, be threatening the sheer existance of a woman who will then also almost always have children.
Women, as well as men, live in Tunisia homosocial - they stay primarily or exclusively with other women, mostly members of their families, when they are not at their homes.
In many cases, it will not be accepted by their husbands that wives talk to other men, not even on the phone - let alone stay with them in a restaurant or be seen together in the streets.

In reality, "cheating" of women is not significantly less than that of men, but it is not socially accepted and therefore it takes place mostly completely hidden from the public.

Illegitimate children are extremely rare, since they represent a major social stigma. To prevent from that, abortions take place, even multiple times.

The divorce rate in Tunisia is high, especially when one considers marriages within the last cpuple of years. A rate of 30% and more are not uncommon in some parts of Tunisia. In many cases, the desire for a divorce proceeds from the woman.

It is particularly problematic that women receive alimony only up to 3 months after the divorce - only if the woman cares for his children, a man is required to pay alimony after this period.

The acceptance of children from other fathers is very low in tunisian fathers and therefore, after a divorce, a woman's only option is to live solitary (often in the house of her family) - or to re-marry, but then, in almost all cases, by leaving the children behind. The children are, in this case, raised by either the family of the mother or the father.

A woman will therefore only consider a divorce in highly suffering or threatening situations and after having considered it for a long time - which is most probably one of the main reasons for the occurence of marital abuse.

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