Tunisia Opens Its First Domestic Violence Shelter

From its 1957 law granting women the right to divorce to its legalization of contraception and abortion in the 1960s, Tunisia has long served as a beacon of women’s progress in North Africa.

But when it comes to domestic violence the country’s shining reputation is missing polish.

Resistance to confronting the problem is deeply rooted in Tunisian culture, says Badi, whose hold on her post could change as the government, which has been undergoing turmoil, restructures. “Some people,” [Sihem Badi, minister of women’s affairs] says, “are afraid to see women gain autonomy; they fear it’s going to break families.”

This attitude keeps so many women—all over the world—oppressed and dehumanized. The cry of “What about the children?!” excuses so much inequality.

Still, hurray for Tunisia! Late is better than never, and you have to take a first step before you can take a hundredth step.