Kais Saied’s recent presidential election marked a hopeful new era for Tunisia. But while this happened, the country simultaneously gave way to it’s very own #MeToo movement after a member of the national parliament, Zouheir Makhlouf was accused of sexual harassment by a 19-year-old student.
From the outside looking in, Tunisia’s political system looked like it was weeding out all of the aggressors. But it’s already faced a major setback. With Makhlouf gaining legal immunity after being sworn into his seat in parliament. This decision was made despite there being video evidence of him allegedly committing an obscene act in his car outside of a school (which immediately circulated on social media).
The 19-year-old student shared the video on a private Facebook group, which then prompted an outpouring of support, which in turn grew in to a full-blown movement. Other women began sharing their sexual harassment stories along with the hashtag #EnaZeda, which translates to #MeToo in English.
Quickly, the #EnaZeda Facebook group gained traction, reaching 21,000 members since its launch on October 15. But the movement didn’t just see online growth. Women also took to the streets protesting Zouheir Makhlouf’s return to parliament.
Makhlouf previously denied the harassment accusation. An investigation ensued nonetheless in Nabeul, the coastal Tunisian town where he was elected. Unfortunately it already looks like the investigation has come to an end because of his parliamentary immunity. But as reported by Reuters, the case of his immunity is being investigated by a magistrate, with the final say to be ruled by a Tunisian judge in coming weeks.