Press Release by Groupe Tawhida Ben Cheikh, 13 August 2020
Top image: “Every woman without discrimination can exercise her sexual and reproductive rights, which includes the right and access to safe abortion. Do you have any questions?”
Today, women and the whole Tunisian people, as well as civil and democratic society, celebrate Women’s Day in an unstable health and political situation. On this 64th anniversary of the Personal Status Code, the health situation in Tunisia continues to deteriorate with regard to sexual and reproductive rights, and in particular access to contraception and abortion.
The incidence of domestic violence towards women has increased ninefold, according to the General Directorate of Human Rights at the Ministry of the Interior, during the Covid-19 lockdown period (22 March–4 May 2020). During that same period, we saw a decrease in the availability of and access to sexual and reproductive health services, especially information and services for contraception and abortion for women and young people, and medical abortion pills.
We call attention to the current lack of policies limiting the worsening of the situation and an obvious decline in the social role of the state. The Tawhida Ben Cheikh Group, as a feminist and human rights organization, express our deep concern about the deterioration of the situation in the area of sexual and reproductive health services and the increased prevalence of violence against women, especially during the pandemic.
We call on Mr Hicham El-Michichi, who is now tasked with forming a new government, to take full responsibility for choosing a competent person to head the Ministry of Health, someone who will give priority to the health sector in general, and in particular to sexual and reproductive health.
We call on all the authorities concerned to formulate an emergency action plan:
- to ensure the continuity of sexual and reproductive health services and to provide them with an adequate budget and resources;
- to guarantee the protection of women exposed to the risk of violence as well as the management of cases in accordance with the texts of the organic law relating to the elimination of violence against women and girls.
Civil society should be fully involved in order to play a key role in the development of emergency measures and national strategies, and their implementation.
We affirm our support for the human rights achievements of Tunisia and our determination to continue the fight for equality and full citizenship for women, equal opportunities for women and men, and the empowerment of women in all aspects of our lives.
Text in French and Arabic: https://www.facebook.com/Groupe-Tawhida-447659891919208