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Girls & Women

Women in Tunisia Are Now Free to Marry Whomever They Want, Regardless of Religion

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Tunisia’s government will no longer decide whom a woman marries.

On Thursday, the Northern African nation overturned a law that prohibited Muslim women from marrying outside their faith.

The ban on interfaith marriages was established in 1973 and required non-Muslim men to convert to Islam if they wanted to marry Muslim Tunisian women, whereas, a Muslim Tunisian man has always been free to marry a woman of any religion, according to Al Jazeera.

Tunisia’s population is 99% Muslim, according to the BBC, though its current president, Beji Caid Essebsi, is the leader of a secular party. 

Read more: Tunisia Just Passed a Law to Protect Women Against Violence

The 90-year-old Essebsi has said that Tunisia needs to fight gender discrimination and modernize, the Associated Press reported.

In July, the Tunisian parliament abolished is “marry-the-rapist” law, which allowed rapists to evade punishment if they married their victims, according to the BBC.

Read more: Lebanon Closes Legal Loophole Allowing Rapists to Marry Victims

The following month, Essebsi proposed that laws be amended to allow women the same inheritance rights as men. Currently, in line with Shariah Law, daughters are entitled to just half the inheritance to which sons are entitled, Al Jazeera reports.

The president has argued that the inequality in inheritance laws is not consistent with the aim of Tunisia’s constitution to establish “total, actual equality between men and women citizens in a progressive way,” according to the Associated Press.

While Tunisian women may not see change in inheritance laws for some time still, they are finally free to marry whomever they choose — a major step toward gender equality in the country. 

Global Citizen campaigns to level the law for women and girls. You can take action to ensure that women and girls have equal rights and the freedom to choose if, whom, and when they marry here.

"Congratulations to the women of Tunisia for the enshrinement of the right to the freedom to choose one's spouse," a spokesperson for Tunisia’s president wrote on Facebook.