Female Students Sexuality in Tunisia: Realities, Public Discourses and Social Adaptation Strategies

Author(s): Ahed Sebouai
Final project
Year of publication:
Gender and Sexuality
Number of pages:
Supervisors: Jón Ingvar Kjaran


Public discourse about young female sexuality has recently spread to different spheres in Tunisia. TV shows, radio stations and newspapers discuss topics related to Tunisian women’s sexuality, often in a way that is anything but a positive representation of the sexuality of young women. It often takes the shape of blaming and shaming young women for their own sexual assaults or for unwed pregnancies. Women who demand their sexual rights and autonomy are shunned. It is no surprise that, according to statistics from the National Office of Family and Population, 60% of sexually active young people do not protect themselves during sex and only 19% of girls aged 15- to 24-years-old state that they have some knowledge about the risk of unprotected sex and of HIV/ Aids. Health officials have also caused an alarm about the abortion rate and the number of single mothers among the above age group. Young Tunisian women who leave the family home for higher education embark on a discovery, bare handed, of their sexuality within a circle of young people and a society that still carries the heavy weight of patriarchy and taboos related to sexuality, especially female sexuality. Young, Tunisian, female students are increasingly torn between the hope of liberation and the necessity to conform with social norms regarding sex and sexuality.