On June 5, in Tunis, Tunisia, protesters organized “in solidarity with Algerian women and with oppressed women all over the world,” said Ben Othman, President of Tunisia’s League for the Defense of Secularism and Freedom. The protest was inspired by a 2011 Slutwalk held in Canada, and coincided with the Worldwide Day of the Miniskirt. Protesters were inspired in May when an Algerian student was banned from taking her law school exams due to her “inappropriately short skirt”. Though many agree that women’s rights in Tunisia are sliding backwards, fewer than 10 women attended the protest — and those who wore mini skirts and dresses were met with gaping stares even though the Tunisian constitution explicitly affirms that “the state is obliged to act through public authorities by taking measures to eliminate forms of violence against women.” A 65-year-old protester named Loola said, “women are scared.” Another protester, Dalinda, said, “it did not used to be this way. My mother and grandmother talked about how different things were.” For some, the protest was suggestive of a perceived division between secular “western feminism” and historical religious values. However, for a protester named Butyana, who arrived in a head scarf and aviator sunglasses, there is no division between Tunisian women. “Today it’s the miniskirt, tomorrow it’s my veil … my enemies are not my sisters,” she reportedly said.
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