Gender Segregation in Tunisian Polling Stations During First Democratic Elections

News article, posted 10.26.2011, from Ben Arous, Tunisia, in:
Author: 
Emily Parker
Language: 
English
Gender Segregation in Tunisian Polling Stations During First Democratic Elections (Photo: tunisia-live.net)

In several polling stations throughout Tunisia today, men and women cast their ballots separate from one another.  The phenomena was not isolated to one area alone — towns in Sidi Bouzid, Seliana, Sfax, Ben Arous, Hamam Chatt, Mallasine, City Bougatfa 2 and Intlelaka City observed similar occurrences.

Was this an initiative organized from the top on the part of ISIE (the Independent High Authority for the Elections), or instead, one put in place by the citizens themselves? Both officials and residents have affirmed that the segregation was decided upon by local citizens.

The official ISIE response to the matter was that, “People have the right to exercise their civil liberties,” and that as long as the line segregation was decided upon willingly by the voters, the association does not condone it.

This was the case in Mhamdia, according to the Chief of the Polling Station of the Elmi neighborhood, located in Mhamdia in the governorate of Ben Arous. “When it comes to the entrance, women and men enter together, but in terms of distributing the lines, we leave the choice to the citizen,” he specified. “If they choose to stand separately, we let it be.  ISIE allowed us to give the citizens the choice whether to stand together, or in separate lines.  Here in Mhamdia, the lines are separate because the space is narrow…This is a poor and crowded area, and citizens have opted to stand separately.”

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