First of all, I just want to say that not everything you experience as harassment is necessarily meant to be. In general, Tunisians are pleasant, helpful and friendly but exceptions can be made like everything else in the world. Here are some Tips to avoid harassment In Tunisia.
Examples of harassment
- They film or take pictures of you without your permission.
- Following you on the street even if you show you’re not interested and want nothing to do with them.
- They sit at your table without asking for your permission.
- Pushes you to the side (this is actually from a personal experience)
- Calls you bad names.
- Touches you, or pinches you from the back ( yes, it happens!!).
- “Kiss” on you (cat call) when you sit with the car window open or when you walk by.
These are few points from what I have experienced during my many years stay in Tunisia.
Are you used to smiling at everyone’s face because it is polite in your country? Do you make eye contact with people who pass you? Are you used to say hello when you meet someone on the street or at least answer hello when they greet you?
Maybe you find it cozy to just stroll around the streets and look around, stop to study a shop window, or just take a walk on the beach, look around and stop to enjoy the sun and wind in your hair.
Feel free to do this, but make sure that if you are a woman do not do it alone….
Unfortunately, both Tunisian and foreign women experience more and more harassment and unwanted attention from both old and young men… and sometimes women.
In recent years, it has gotten worse even though the law is crystal clear about the matter.
Women harassment is both forbidden and illegal. They can actually be fined for doing it according to the law, but in many cases women who experience that and contact the police get only shrugged off.
Tips to avoid harassment In Tunisia
If you feel threatened, seek out the nearest elderly couple or a family and stay close to them. If something happens, in most cases you will get help from them.
Do not shout in bad Tunisian or any other language. It does not help but triggers them to continue, and let’s not forget laughing at your Arabic.
In the streets
Do not walk in empty streets.
If you are filmed then ignore it, do not start filming back.
If you meet someone on the street, do not answer if they say hello or try to make contact with you.
Pick up your phone and pretend that you are talking to family or a friend, fully occupied with other things.
My advice for you to stay safe is to not stare at men. Go directly from point A to point B. Make your own mental bubble and do not let anyone get into your comfort zone.
Ignoring, being “blind and deaf” may seem rude to us (because of our different culture) but believe me it works here.
I’m not saying you should stare at the ground, no, rather the opposite. Go with your nose in the cloud and use a body language that says “I am not available”.
Body language is super important!
For men, if they come across other men who want trouble, do not test your manhood by yelling or fighting. As a rule, you can experience this in streets where the one who encourages trouble knows others and believe me if you start a fight people will help their friend not you the stranger.
Stretch your hands up with your palms facing out, say Sorry (yes even if it’s not your fault) and leave as soon as you can. This can hurt your “pride” but it’s better than knocking you down????
With your palm out and your hands up, you say with your body language that you do not want trouble.
No one should tolerate anything but for the sake of your own mental health, these tips are something to take with you. Using a lot of energy on getting angry or irritated helps no one especially you.
As I have said above…. The Tunisians are welcoming and friendly people but as in all countries there are individuals who can make life miserable for others and who can make people believe that everyone is like that, which is not true at all…
Written by carita
Do you have an experience with harassment? Feel free to leave a comment .