Tunisia has adopted a landmark law to reduce violence against women. It is a pioneering measure in the Arab world, where women in most countries have very limited rights and are treated as subservient to men. Among other things, this new law abolishes the scandalous article 227 of the Penal Code that allowed the rapist of a minor to avoid imprisonment if he married the victim. The new law punishes anyone who has sex with a girl under 16 with from 20 years up to life in prison. It also addresses the widespread sexual harassment in this country by making it a crime punishable by fines of 1,000 dinars (350 euros) or more.
In addition, the law includes significant progress in the field of exploitation of children. From now on people who use underage girls in domestic service will be sentenced to imprisonment of three to six months. The law also increases the legal age of sexual maturity from the current 13 years of age up to 18 years. The promulgation of this law was the end result of more than three years of difficult deliberations. In the end it was supported by all of the deputies of the parliament, and it is hoped that this will send a message to the rest of the Arab world that it is time to treat women as equal citizens.