The 2011-Tunisian-Revolution has endowed its people with long-sought freedom of expression; freedom that has made it possible to openly talk about what once was branded as taboo topics. As the socio-cultural scene began to progressively change, discussions concerning sexual harassment also began to gain a voice.
Soon after the Revolution and as a celebration of the well-earned freedom of expression, non-profit volunteer groups, movements, and organizations were formed seeking to denounce and shed light on sexual harassment.
EnaZeda is one of the movements that have taken it upon themselves to fight for the normalization of condemning sexual harassment and to erase the stigma that -almost naturally- correlates with it.
What is EnaZeda?
Ena Zeda (أنا زادة) means “me too” in Tunisian Arabic. The movement operates through its social media platforms. It offers a safe space for people affected by sexual harassment, encouraging them to come forward and share their stories. The EnaZeda page is open to all those who had to suffer or are suffering from sexual violence regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, age, race, or social situation. The people behind this initiative are, as they like to introduce themselves, a group of Tunisian “independent feminist women” who are interested in breaking the silence around sexual abuse and being staunch advocates of the feminist cause in Tunisia.
On the national scale, the EnaZeda movement comes as a continuation of the already ongoing fight led by Tunisian feminists for the recognition of sexual rights, bodily integrity rights, and reproductive rights; a fight that initially started as an outcry against sexual harassment on public transport, nearly five years ago.
On the international scale, the EnaZeda movement naturally echoed the rapidly spreading MeToo movement as the hashtag MeToo gained a global amplitude.
The movement’s advocates think that the discussion around sexual harassment has evolved and become more and more liberated. Cradling an audience of more than 15 000 persons, the EnaZeda page has received hundreds of testimonies. The sheer observer may think that having such a huge fan-base can create some difficulties for the administrators; obstacles especially dealing with the public’s reception of the data presented. Fortunately, the EnaZeda page administrators say that they haven’t faced any real problems as the majority of the Tunisian people, they believe, are conscious and equipped enough to deal with such matters.
According to the EnaZeda page administrators, the majority of the testimonies they received are concerned with street harassment. They postulate that this is due to society’s wish to restrict and limit women’s access to public spaces. The EnaZeda movement strongly promotes the perception of women as free independent entities, who accordingly deserve to be equal to men in all aspects of daily civic life.
Additionally, another number of stories sent to the page revolve around pedo-criminality. The transgressors in these testimonies are, more often than not, family members and acquaintances. The EnaZeda movement concludes that such abuse hinges upon the lack of sexual education if not the absence thereof.
Sexual Harassement: a Macro or Micro Problem?
The EnZeda movement advocates believe that sexual abuse is a global issue that trespasses cultural and local boundaries. The patriarchal ideology still plagues many communities around the globe. Movements such as #MeToo in the United States and #BalancetonPorc in France debunk the belief that sexual harassment is a problem that strictly propagates in conservative societies.
EnaZeda: a Success
The EnaZeda movement considers all stories equal in terms of importance. All stories deserve to be told with no underlying hierarchy, preference, or inclination. This stems from the movement’s ultimate objective, which is to denounce harassment in all of its shapes and forms.
EnaZeda has done a remarkable job at providing sexual harassment victims with space where they can freely express themselves, breaking the shackles of fear that had for so long refrained them from voicing out their stories. Thanks to publicly sharing the victims’ stories of sexual harassment on the movement’s popular Facebook page, potential sexual aggressors now know that victims will no longer keep silent, that abuse will no longer be tolerated, and that it will be legally prosecuted.
Youth and Volunteerism
EnaZeda advocates call for youth mobilization. They believe that the Tunisian youth have a salient role in combating all sorts of social calamities, namely sexual harassment.
The EnaZeda supporters hold that in order to reach real social reformation, calls for systemic changes are not enough. Change starts with every citizen’s willingness to spread awareness about sexual abuse and to eradicate all forms of discrimination. Indeed, the EnaZeda movement suggests that beyond political ideologies and agendas, the journey towards abolishing sexual discrimination and harassment depends heavily on the citizens’ participation and their belief in the urgency of criminalizing these practices.
IVolunteer International is a Gold Seal nonprofit organization on Guidestar. Operating from Savannah, Georgia, IVolunteer International connects volunteers to volunteer projects around the world. Since 2017, IVolunteer has connected over 3,000 volunteers worldwide. In 2019, World Trade Center Savannah selected IVolunteer International as finalists of the Peace Through Trade Competition. In 2020, IVolunteer International will develop and launch a geo-connecting mobile application which will be available to volunteers around the world.