Tunisia - Personal Status Code of 1956
- Country: Tunisia
- Law status: Discriminatory law in force
- Law Type: Inheritance and Property
Section 103 of Tunisia’s Personal Status Code limits daughters’ inheritance rights and provides that any sons inherit twice as much as daughters.
Section 103. There are three cases that apply to immediate daughters:
1. A sole daughter inherits half of the estate;
2. Two or more daughters collectively inherit two thirds of the estate;
3. Where there are any sons, the male inherits twice as much as the female.
2 JANUARY 2019 UPDATE: Equality Now commends the step taken by the President Beji Caid Essebsi and the Council of Ministers to approve gender equality in inheritance on 23rd November 2018. Tunisia is the first among Arab countries to break the taboo on issues related to inheritance.
The President has stated that Tunisia is a secular state and that its laws and legislation should be in line with its 2014 Constitution, including Articles 21 and 46 which guarantee full equality between men and women in all spheres of life.
This would also be in line with the recommendation of the United Nations Working Group in law and practice in July 2013. The Working group recommended that Tunisia eliminate all forms of discrimination against women including amending the Personal Status Code to grant women equal inheritance rights. UN committees including the CEDAW Committee, which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, have also recommended Tunisia amend its legislation to ensure equality between men and women, and to “amend without delay all remaining discriminatory provisions relating to … inheritance”. Discrimination in laws on inheritance also violates the commitments in the Sustainable Development Goals, which all UN member states adopted in 2015.
We look to the Tunisian parliament to endorse the suggested draft law in a historic step which would amend Section 103 of the Personal Status of Code of 1956 and put an end to sex discrimination in its inheritance law.
Repealing discrimination in inheritance laws in Tunisia would set another good example to other Arab countries that still have similar discrimination in their laws. These include Algeria and Morocco, where women and human rights organizations are in the process of discussing and debating the issue.
1 MARCH 2018 UPDATE: Feminist human rights associations, unions and national and international NGOs are determined to continue the struggle for full equality between Tunisian men and women until it is achieved. On 10 March, thousands – including Equality Now - will march on Parliament with the Tunisian National Coalition for Equality in Inheritance in solidarity with Tunisian women advocating for equal inheritance rights. In recognition of International Women’s Day (8 March) and organized under the principle that “Equality is a Right, Not a Privilege” (المساواة حق موش مزية) women and men are calling on the Government to respect and enforce the Constitution of 2014 (articles 21 and 46) that guarantees full equality between men and women in all spheres of life; and specifically to repeal Section 103 of Tunisia’s personal status code.
Sex discrimination in inheritance laws threatens women and their families around the world. In Tunisia, Halima struggles to feed her children and sick husband while her brothers use her father’s inheritance for vacations. Initially she’d received half, but in a common practice, was pressured by her family to give up her smaller share entirely. As she told the press, “I feel helpless and bitter. After receiving all our father’s inheritance, my brothers only care about their own families. They travel. And they’ve forgotten they have sisters.”
TAKE ACTION! Tunisia has become more progressive on women’s rights in recent years. In August 2017, President Essebsi himself called for gender equality in inheritance. However, deeply ingrained taboos on even discussing the issue have kept the struggle going for years. We’re asking you to support the Coalition’s goal that “Tunisia, the country of revolution, also becomes the country of Women’s Rights!” by keeping up the pressure on the Government. Progress here would also hugely impact the entire region where many women suffer similar discrimination.
Article 21 of the Constitution of Tunisia: Male and female citizens are equal in rights and duties. They are equal before the law without any discrimination.
In July 2013, the United Nations Working group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice recommended to Tunisia that it eliminate all forms of discrimination against women including by amending the Personal Status Code to grant women equal inheritance rights. Other UN committees including the CEDAW committee, which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, have also recommended Tunisia amend its legislation to ensure equality between men and women, and to “amend without delay all remaining discriminatory provisions relating to … inheritance”. Discrimination in laws on inheritance also violates the commitments in the Sustainable Development Goals, which all UN member states adopted in 2015.
No more #UnsexyLaws - #MakeEqualityReality!
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