Tunisia: 'orfi' or temporary marriage making a comeback

Outlawed in 1956 with promulgation of gender equality

01 October, 16:22

    Students in Tunis [ARCHIVE MATERIAL] Students in Tunis [ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS - In Tunisia, a marriage becomes official when the couple signs the dotted line before witnesses.

    But since the fall of the dictatorship in 2011 and the expansion of Salafist proselytism, another formula that was outlawed under the previous, secular regime is making a comeback: the ''orfi'' or temporary marriage, which imposes no obligations on the man.

    Temporary marriage was made in illegal in 1956, when Tunisia's Code of Personal Status officially abolished gender inequality.

    In an orfi union, the woman de facto accepts a subordinate position vis a vis the man, giving up any rights she or her children may aspire to. The practice is widespread among the rich and the divorced, because it allows men to beg off from recognizing their children and therefore potential heirs.

    Now the practice is taking root among university students as well. Reportedly, some 1,000 marriages have been contracted in this way since 2011, which gives a measure of the spread of Salafist influence among the young and educated. Women who accept this kind of union supposedly know what they are up against, but obviously the odds are stacked against them: as in the case of a wealthy elderly businessman with a double nationality who wed a girl 50 years his junior in an orfi marriage. When she became pregnant and refused to have an abortion, he simply sold all his properties in Tunisia, killed her, and left the country. (ANSAmed).

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