A Tunisian woman posted a photo of her naked torso on Facebook, in a campaign activists say is intended to protect women’s rights against ascendant Islamist parties.
“My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honor,” reads an Arabic statement in thick black pen across the woman’s chest. She identified herself only as Meriam in the caption, saying she is from Tunisia and a supporter of Amina Tyler, founder of the Tunisian branch of Femen, an international women’s rights protest group.
Women rallied alongside men to bring down autocratic rulers in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt two years ago. Many now say their rights are under threat from Islamist movements, the main political beneficiaries of the change.
Aliaa Magda El-Mahdy, founder of Femen Egypt, uploaded nude photos of herself on her blog in 2011. She then sought political asylum in Sweden, where she took part in a Femen protest against Egypt’s Islamist-drafted constitution outside the embassy in Stockholm in December. El-Mahdy is under investigation for committing immoral acts and insulting religion.
Nineteen year-old Tyler became the first Tunisian activist to post a topless photo of herself on Facebook after e-mailing it to Femen in last month. She told Tunisian online newspaper Jadal that her goal was to “make the voice of Tunisian women heard and protect them from suppression.”
The posting provoked a backlash from officials and her family, many of whom disowned her. President of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Adel Almi said that under Islamic law she deserves to be lashed and maybe even stoned to death, according to Tunisian newspaper Assabah.
Other Tunisian women’s rights groups have held demonstrations and rallies in Tunis calling for the protection of their rights, and denouncing an article in the draft constitution that describes them as “complementary to men.”