This week, a newly elected Tunisian deputy appeared in court over footage in which he can be seen masturbating in front of a school.
The MP, Zouheir Makhlouf, won a seat in Tunisia's Oct. 6 elections to represent Nabeul, a coastal town located 60 kilometers from the country's capital Tunis. After the video was leaked, things just didn't go as planned. The prosecutor general of the town has since opened an investigation into Makhlouf on grounds of "sexual harassment and moral injury."
The politician, who had no idea he was being filmed, has since claimed he was actually urinating in a bottle as he is diabetic.
Regardless of the reasons for having one's pants and underwear down in a car parked in front of a secondary school, the scandal has prompted women to publicly talk about sexual harassment in all its forms.
Using the hashtag #EnaZeda, which is Tunisian for #MeToo, many women began publicly sharing their testimonies of sexual harassment.
"Tunisia's social media lights up with the literal Arabic equivalent for #MeToo"
"At first he insisted to get my number ... when I refused he started touching me"
"He came from behind me, pushed himself against me"
"A frotteur takes his penis out, rubs it against me, and ejaculates on my thigh"
"I am 19 years old. I was on the metro 2 to go to work when a frotteur hops on at the Mohamed 5 stop, takes his penis out, rubs it against me, and ejaculates on my thigh. I leave the metro on the next stop and collapse on the ground crying. I cried and screamed and no one reacted."
"I was 7 years old"
"I was around 7 years old. I went to the market to buy couscous and when I got back to the building, I found a man with his penis displayed publicly as he touched himself. I didn't mention it to anyone."
"Had the nerve to caress my hand and forearm"
"At 3 a.m. during a shift, the father of a feverish baby I was examining had the nerve, in front of his sobbing little one and his distraught wife, to caress my hand and forearm."
"There is a difference between touching someone accidentally and grabbing an ass"
"A certain teacher I had in university was trying hard to hit on me"
"Losing count of how many times my friends and I got harassed"
Tunisia has been fighting "violence against women" in all its forms
In Tunisia, 53 percent of women have experienced violence of some kind.
In July 2017, Tunisia passed a "landmark" law to end all violence against women. The country's parliament passed a bill that protects women from violence in what Human Rights Watch (HRW) described at the time as a "landmark step for women's rights." The law introduced criminal provisions and increased penalties for various forms of violence, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women. It also scrapped a loophole that allowed rapists to avoid prison by marrying their victims.
According to HuffPost, organizations and officials got together to assess the law's implementation at the end of 2018. They reported several shortcomings including "logistical barriers that prevent women from filing complaints."
With the recent trending hashtag, we've been reminded that the road to justice is pretty long in the Arab world, but women are not hiding in the shadows anymore, nor are they afraid to take their stories public.