A Tunisian girl is faced with criminal charges after posting a naked photo of herself on Facebook.
“My body belongs to me, and is not a source of anyone’s honor,” stated Amina Tyler, the 19-year-old founder of the Tunisian branch of FEMEN, an international feminist organization, which started in Ukraine.
Her actions immediately elicited death threats from Adel Almi, a prominent Islamic cleric, who told the Tunisian daily, Assabah News, that this young woman, according to Islamic law, deserves between 80 and 100 lashes, but because of the seriousness of her actions, should be stoned to death.
“This young woman, for her actions, could bring misfortune and provoke epidemics and catastrophes,” said Almi, the President of Al-Jamia Al-Li-Wassatia Tawia Wal-Islah (the conservative association for public awareness and reform), who represents the voice of Shariah Law. “Her actions could be contagious and could give ideas to other women. Therefore, she must be isolated.”
As of Sunday morning, Amina Tyler has been placed in a psychiatric facility by her parents, who have disowned her, possibly along with the help of the police.
The Facebook page of her organization, FEMEN Tunisia, was hacked by Islamists: “Thanks to God we have hacked this immoral page and the best is to come,” the hackers wrote, “God willing, these dirt will disappear from Tunisia.”
Feminists respond on the internet to these events by organizing a petition to keep Amina safe on Change.org, and an International Day to Defend Amina on April 4, signed by 40 prominent artists, writers, organizations, and members of the media, including Richard Dawkins, the scientist and Atheist activist.
The Ukrainian organization, FEMEN, was founded in 2008 by Anna Hutsol, as a protest against the trafficking and sexual exploitation of Ukrainian women. The organization has branches throughout Western Europe. Using toplessness as a media tactic, they have protested a variety of issues including sex tourism, pornography, international marriage agencies, the scandals of Italian politician Silivio Berlusconi, and the lack of public toilets in Kiev. They are fiercely against the legalization of prostitution in Ukraine and demand the criminalization of prostitution in other countries around the world.
FEMEN’s theatrical tactics are criticized by many, but they have been successful in garnering a lot of media attention in the past five years. In Tunisia, the now darkened birthplace of the Arab Spring, women have much yet to demand in terms of equality.