Sexual violence prevents girls reaching the schools!
Following the departure of the former president Ben Ali, Tunisia has entered an emergency situation. A few days after he left, we started hearing about rape, kidnapping and violence against girls and women. More than two years after Tunisia’s revolt, the violence has only intensified and the violations have reached young girls more than adults.
The picture is as simple as the dream of any Tunisian child to pursue an education. Yet, it also holds sadness, fatigue and fear. The girl is not only striving for a dream but also combating poverty; a situation that even the revolution did not change for her. She has the same old board to write on with chalk, living in the same tiny house with her family and receiving the same way of teaching. She might not know yet her rights for a decent life, education and job but she only knows that she has to go to school to fulfill her dream. When we have usually been asked, “what would you like to be when you grow up?” the most common reply would be “teacher, pilot or doctor”. I wondered what this girl on the image is dreaming of now, I wanted to talk to her but as soon I approached her while capturing the picture, she closed the door.
I don’t blame her for doing that; actually I am happy she did! Because unfortunately today, she is threatened by sexual violence at any time and any place.
Recently, a three-year-old girl was raped by a caretaker at a children’s nursery in a Tunis suburb. As a reaction, protesters took the streets in front of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs demanding the resignation of Minister Sihem Badi, accusing her of defending the nursery and failing to protect children’s rights. This is a case of rape among many that have occurred at other facilities under the ministry’s authority. However, will the minister’s resignation be the solution and stop any kind of violence or aggression against young girls? Or will this behavior become as normalized as raping women? Ms. Badi said that a member of the girl's family was to blame and that no measures against the nursery were needed. Consequently, this means taking the side of the violator and not the violated.
I've just mentioned this case of rape because I wonder, what educational future these girls will have if they cannot be safe going to school? how can we talk about education quality, institutions and curriculum while a lot of girls cannot even reach the school? Rape is one example but they might not reach the school because of poverty, cultural norms, patriarchy, war and conflict among other factors...