Netflix Puts Tunisian Women’s Rights Front and Centre in New Release

Where the Arab Spring meets the #MeToo movement

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As the birthplace of the Arab Spring (where abortion has been legal since the 70’s and polygamy has been abolished since the 50’s), Tunisia has long-been regarded to as a pioneer for women’s rights and now, democracy in the region.

But despite the progress, Tunisian women had to wait until 2017 for a law to be put in place to protect them from abuse and persecute perpetrators of sexual abuse. In 2019, after pictures of a politician appearing to sexually harass a student went viral, hundreds of women united to form Tunisia’s very own #MeToo movement—#EnaZeda

A Facebook group dedicated to the movement, which encouraged women to speak out and share personal stories of abuse has now reached 35,000 members. More often than not, women still refrain from filing legal complaints and struggle to find support in their workplace or community in fear of harming their reputation. 

Netflix’s latest Tunisian film, Beauty and the Dogs, follows the story of Mariam, a woman who was raped by the police.

Inspired by a true story, this Kaouther Ben Hania-directed film depicts a strong and unapologetic woman, defiant of patriarchal norms and repressive police rules—a woman who refuses to stay silent. 

Although it lacks slightly more depth and nuance, Beauty and The Dogs remains a revolutionary film, tackling a cultural taboo head-on.

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