Outraged Tunisians took to the streets by the hundreds Tuesday, angrily protesting the treatment of a woman who was allegedly raped by police officers — and then charged with public indecency when she filed a complaint.
‘Attempt to discredit a rape victim’
“At best, charging the victim of a rape by police officers instead of protecting her from intimidation and stigma highlights the deep flaws on Tunisian law and criminal justice system,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa program director at Amnesty International. “At worst, it is an insidious attempt to discredit a rape victim and protect those she accused of raping her.”
The case began September 3 when three police officers approached the woman and her fiance while they were in their car in the capital Tunis, the woman’s lawyer told Amnesty. Two of the officers then raped the woman inside the car, while the third took her fiance to a nearby ATM to extort money from him, the woman claimed. It was only after she filed a complaint against the officers — and they were charged with rape and extortion — that the officers said they found the couple in an “immoral position” in the car. Both have denied the charges. Tuesday’s session is the second of what is expected to be several court hearings on the matter.
The decision to charge the woman incensed human rights groups like the Tunisian League of Human Rights and the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, who called for protests outside the Tunis courthouse. Because of the case, rights groups are taking a closer look at the Tunisian government and judiciary.
“This caused a major upheaval in Tunisian public opinion,” Salah Eddine El Jorshi of the Tunisian League of Human Rights said. “Some felt that maybe the woman was part of the crime, but others strongly felt that she was solely targeted because she was a woman.”
What can you say about the Tunisian authority’s attempt to intimidate a rape victim by charging her with indecency? Feel free to comment on this hot issue!
Image: TNT Magazine