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Tunisian women besiege parliament to protest sexual harassment

Tunisian women besieged parliament in the city of Le Bardo on Wednesday to protest against a sitting MP accused of sexual harassment.

The protesters fear that Zouheir Makhlouf, who was investigated for alleged harassment and public indecency, will enjoy immunity from prosecution.

“We are before parliament to demand better implementation of Bill 58, to protect women from sexual harassment and violence because we are always victims of it”, said campaign manager, Nawrez Elladi.

We are before parliament to demand better implementation of Bill 58, so to protect women from sexual harassment and violence.

“The new parliament will sit and in that parliament, there is an elected representative, Mr. Makhlouf, who was caught red-handed, who harassed a young girl, a student. And that person must not remain in our democratic parliament today”, a protester said.

Makhlouf, who was elected for the Qalb Tounes party was filmed with his trousers dropped to his knees by a student who shared it online along with accusations of sexual harassment.

The MP has denied inappropriate conduct and said he was urinating due to a medical condition.

The video went viral in the North African nation sparking Tunisia’s own #MeToo movement.

The protesters have called for stricter implementation of a July 2017 law that outlaws sexual harassment in public places with a maximum of one year in prison and $1,000 fine.

Article 68 of Tunisia’s constitution provides that no sitting MP can be “arrested or tried for their opinions… or for actions taken in connection with their parliamentary duties.” This in theory excludes allegations of sexual impropriety.


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