Ever since independence, social development has been a priority and progress has been made in several areas in recent decades. This has meant that the health status among the population is said to be among the best in North Africa. At the same time, underfunding of care has led to new problems, including lack of medicines.
Most residents have access to health insurance that entitles them to basic health care, but despite this, patients have to bear a lot of costs themselves. Health care and vaccination programs reach large sections of the population. Employees are covered by social insurance such as maternity leave and accident insurance, while government employees are also entitled to a pension. The health care system has been financed through grants paid by public employees in combination with the government subsidizing the care for the unemployed.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Tunisia, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
At the same time, development and welfare vary greatly within the country. In coastal regions, where more than two-thirds of public investment is included, living conditions are much better than inland where one-third of the residents live in poverty and where the opportunities for good education are poorer. In the whole country, around 16 percent of residents are estimated to live below the national poverty line.
Tunisia has been a pioneer in the region when it comes to gender equality and has been far ahead in terms of family planning. Specific laws are intended to ensure that women are not discriminated against, but there are still many injustices left, such as the man being the head of the family under the law. In accordance with Muslim family law, sons also inherit twice as much as daughters. A proposal to introduce equal inheritance rights was presented in 2018 (seeCalendar). In 2017, a law clause was passed that allowed impunity for the man if he married a girl under 15 who he raped. Six months earlier, the law had been applied by the court in a case where a 13-year-old girl had been raped and pregnant. The case led to the rule of law being referred to as “the shipper’s grave”.
Polygamy has been banned since 1956. According to the electoral law, at least half of the candidates that the parties have on their lists are women. After the 2014 elections, one third of the members of Parliament were women.
However, gender equality aspirations do not apply to sexual minorities. Gay acts can be punished with up to three years in prison; in practice, the judgments often last six months. The gay-rights organization Shams states that the convictions have increased: 127 in 2018, more than twice as many as in 2016. Among the legislative changes introduced in 2018, however, there is a proposal to allow homosexuality. Like other proposed liberalizations, it has drawn criticism from conservative circles.
In 2018, a law was adopted against racism, which can result in imprisonment and fines (see Calendar).
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 15 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 94.2 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 90.9 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 6.7 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 257 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 31 percent (2018)
Suicide triggers revolution
Mohammed al-Bouazizi, a 26-year-old vegetable trader in Sidi Bouzid, sets fire to himself on December 17. He has been humiliated by the police, who seized his goods which he sells without permission. The following days, mass demonstrations are held in the city, which spread to other cities. President Ben Ali in a TV speech protests, which he says were organized by a few revelers.