Judicial Practice at the Court of First Instance Tunis: The Case of Divorce for Harm on the Grounds of Domestic Violence

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Abstract

Tunisian personal status law is internationally known for its “progressive” character. Nevertheless, it is argued in Tunisian doctrine that judicial practice is characterised by “conservatism,” and that judges apply sharia and “custom” instead of or at least together with legislation. This article examines the practices at the Court of First Instance Tunis in divorce cases where the wife accuses her husband of domestic violence. It is demonstrated that strict evidence requirements applied by judges prevent most women from obtaining divorce for harm (darar), a type of divorce that has large financial advantages for the wife. However, the material does not indicate that judges simply apply sharia or “custom”: judges argue that strict evidence requirements are necessary in the light of their experience with numerous false accusations. Moreover, judges do take accusations of domestic violence into consideration in other types of divorce.

Judicial Practice at the Court of First Instance Tunis: The Case of Divorce for Harm on the Grounds of Domestic Violence

in Hawwa

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References

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2

Sana Ben Achour 2005–2006 and 2007Monia Ben Jemia Souhayma Ben Achour and Mariem Bellamine 2006 Moncef Bouguerra 2000 and 2005 Hafidha Chékir 1986 and 1998 Ali Mezghani 1975 2000 and 2005 Kalthoum Méziou 1992 Mohammed Charfi 1997.

3

Kalthoum Méziou 1992p. 268 Moncef M. Bouguerra 2005 pp. 566–7 Sana Ben Achour 2007.

4

Jürgen Link and Mirko M. Hall 2004.

5

Jürgen Link and Mirko M. Hall 2004. See for example Michel Foucault 1975 p. 185: “La pénalité perpétuelle qui traverse tous les points et contrôle tous les instants des institutions disciplinaires compare différencie hiérarchise homogénéise exclut. En un mot: elle normalise.” (citation in Jürgen Link and Mirko M. Hall 2004 p. 15).

6

Michel Foucault 1975. See also Margaret A. Paternek 1987 p. 97.

7

Michel Foucault 1972: the historical study of psychiatry “shows” how the norm develops in the sense of what is normal and what is not.

8

Alf Ross 1929 and 2004. See also Stig Strômholm 1980 and Eric Millard 2007.

9

Michel Foucault 1972.

10

Michel Foucault 1976. See also Dianna Taylor 2009 p. 46.

12

John Griffiths 1986. For other works on Legal pluralism see Brian Tamanaha 2000 and 2008 Sally Engle Merry 1988 Sally Falk Moore 1973 Boaventura de Sousa Santos 1995 Paul Schiff Berman 2007 Marc Galanter 1981 Chris Fuller 1994 André Hoekema 2003. On Legal pluralism in the Arab World see Baudouin Dupret M.S. Berger and L. al-Zwaini (eds.) 1999.

15

Friedrich Karl von Savigny 1831. See also Roger Cotterrell 1992 p. 22.

18

Herbert L.A. Hart 1994and Brian Bix 1991.

20

Herbert L.A. Hart 1994.

21

Harold Garfinkel 1967. Ethnomethodological study of judicial practice: John F. Manzo 1994.

23

Anthony A. d’Amato 1984p. 60. Treating judicial argumentation as post-hoc rationalization is the point of departure of the rhetorical study of judicial decisions. See the writings of Chaim Perelman but also for example Pierre Moor 1997 Hans Kloosterhuis 2008 Hélène Ruiz-Fabri 2009 Hermann Petzold Pernía 1986 Robert Legros 1978 André Vanwelkenhuijzen 1978 Massimo La Torre 2002 Bruce McLeod 1985 an Sara C. Benesh and Jason J. Czarnezki 2009. On religious arguments in judicial decisions see Jennifer Faust 2008 and on the argument of ‘tradition’ see Paul Alain Foriers 1986. See also Duncan Kennedy on the notion that arguments employed in judicial decisions are post-hoc rationalizations as well as Pierre Bourdieu.

34

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35

CFI Tunis 12 January 20096921127 October 2008 63944 6 January 2009 66893 27 October 2008 67558 5 January 2009 69210.

44

CFI Tunis 6 January 200969751.

50

CFI Tunis 12 January 200966946.

52

Interview 5 September 2008.

54

Interview 29 October 2008.

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