Last month, a woman who is said to be a child protection officer made a report at Akilla Police Station accusing Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa of coercing a child to feed him alcohol.
Kimilili MP Didmus had posted a video on his social media accounts of a little girl, whom she purported to as his daughter, who was seen assisting him in taking what he characterised as tea. The clearly dutiful and caring girl made sure Didmus sipped the tea before taking a taste of it herself.
“When the father becomes the child,” he captioned the video.
“The video involves a young girl from the age of 13-14 years who is being forced by a senior public officer in this country to feed him and also make her drink something that looks like busaa,” the woman says in the video.
In a similar case, a Tunisian MP was sentenced to a year in prison for sexually harassing a schoolgirl, the victim’s lawyer said, in a case that sparked a nationwide #Metoo movement.
Zouhair Makhlouf, an independent member of the suspended parliament, was recorded masturbating in his car in the seaside city of Nabeul in October 2019.
The high school girl who took the images and posted them on social media, who was a teenager at the time, said he followed her to school and filed sexual harassment and indecent assault charges against her.
Makhlouf, who was wearing a T-shirt of the Qalb Tounes party of which he was a member at the time, had his trousers down and was looking at the camera. He argued throughout the trial that he is diabetic and had needed to urgently urinate in a bottle.
The victim’s lawyer, Naima Chabbouh, said Makhlouf had been found guilty of indecent assault after a court session that went late into Thursday evening. The images of Makhlouf, which went viral on social media, sparked an unprecedented outpouring of testimonies of sexual harassment.
Makhlouf was originally charged with sexual harassment before the indictment was reduced to indecent exposure, before it was bumped up again under public pressure.
In 2020, a group of Tunisian NGOs wrote to the country’s High Council of Magistrates alleging a string of procedural violations they said aimed to protect Makhlouf.
They said the inquiry had gone far beyond the normal nine months despite the presence of “solid proof”.
When the trial opened on November 1, dozens of women demonstrated outside the court in Nabeul, 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of Tunis, chanting “my body is not a public space!”
Reacting to Friday’s ruling, women’s rights group Aswat Nissa said it was “pleased with this historic judgement”.
“This sentencing represents a triumph for the feminist movement in Tunisia and for all survivors of gender-based violence, as it puts an end to the culture of impunity,” it said in a statement.
Tunisia is seen as a pioneer in the Arab world in terms of women’s rights, and in July 2017 made sexual harassment in a public space punishable by a jail sentence of up to a year.