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Amina - A Feminist Warrior of Tunisia

By Sarral Sharma
From Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi
Posted Mar 29th 2013 11:00AM
Last couple of years saw unprecedented wave of revolutionary protests, demonstrations and civil wars sweeping varied Middle Eastern nations, a movement that was dubbed as "Arab Spring." Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Libya witnessed massive anger on the part of people, who threw down the gauntlet to corrupt and repressive regimes. World instantly took notice of people's uprising and lent support to facilitate as some say, a transition from medieval to modern period of freedom and liberation.Debate on how successful these protests were is wide open to interpretation since the ideas that inspired people to throw off the tyranny are now in grave danger again. And this danger is the fear that repression is crawling its way back to aforementioned countries, crushing anyone who refuses to conform to dogmatic religious values or those who dare to articulate their desires openly.

It is a story of a 19-year-old Tunisian feminist activist and her supposedly defiant and 'immoral' actions that have sent Tunisian establishment into a war-like mood against the teenage girl. It all began a few days ago when Amina , a member of Feminist group Femen, posted some photographs of her to the Femen- Tunisian Facebook page. One of the photographs has Amina appearing with the words "Fuck your morals" scrawled across her bare chest. In yet another she, puffing a cigarette, is poising topless with an epigram that reads "my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone's honour."

As was expected it caused a furore among hardliners known as Salafists, who want Amina be stoned to death. Here is what Adel Almi, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, told the newspapers: "According to God's law, she deserves 80 to 100 lashes, but what she committed is worth much more than that." He went on to declare that Amina "deserves to be stoned to death and she must be quarantined because what she did is an epidemic." There are reports that the Femen activist, indeed, has been taken to a psychiatric hospital. The head of the Femen group also stated that she couldn't get through Amina's phone and her Facebook page has also been hacked.

The whole episode of a single woman taking on the rotten conventions of a society, fanatics promptly declaring her actions as "contagious illness", demanding she be secluded, and finally the master stroke of her being admitted to a mental psychiatric institution, the whole sequence of event other than demonstrating the nervousness of a patriarchal set-up that goes into dizzy at the whiff of slightest female defiance, reminds one of the utter hypocrisy and double standards that are prevalent in societies all across the world. These unequal laws for men and women betray the frail basis of the ideals of equality, liberty etc. While it's perfectly okay for a man to ogle, leer, ravish as many women as possible, a mere act of nude picture demanding an end to subjugation of women calls for stoning of the heretic female teenager.

Media reports in Tunisia suggest that Amina runs the risk of receiving incarceration for two years for baring her breast and thus committing an immoral act. Meanwhile some 80 thousand people have signed a petition demanding that those threatening teenage girl should be prosecuted. Femina, on the other hand, has reacted more aggressively and has vowed to start a campaign for Amina on April 4. They have issued a statement which reads- "On 4 April, we will remind the fanatics and the world that the real epidemic and disaster that must be challenged is misogyny – Islamic or otherwise." The feminist group further reiterated that their movement will the "beginning of a new, genuine Arab Spring, after which true freedom, freedom without mullahs and caliphs, will come to Tunisia!"
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