Finding Voice through Film Viewing: Tunisian Women Interpret Gendered Violence in Post-revolutionary Tunisia

  • Jane Tchaicha Bentley University, USA
  • Khedija Arfaoui University of Manouba, Tunisia
Keywords: Gender-based violence, Tunisia, Post-revolution, Audience reception theory, Mixed methodology


This paper reports on a 2019 study about female perception of violence against women (VAW) in post-revolutionary Tunisia triggered by their viewing of the Tunisian film, The Beauty and the Dogs (La Belle et La Meute). The two-phase study includes a one-time, in depth interview with the female filmmaker, Kaouther Ben Hania, and eight film screening sessions and post-viewing protocols with small audiences of Tunisian women and adolescents living outside of main metropolitan areas in the southern region of the country.  In the first phase, the interview elicits the filmmaker’s thoughts about her motivation behind making the film and her ideas about the role of art in society.  In the second phase, a post-viewing survey queries participants’ background and reactions to the film; small focus group interviewing expands upon the broader themes of VAW and connect them to their everyday lives.  Slightly more than 100 females, whose ages range from 11 to 63, participated in the study.  Film was chosen because this artistic medium remains among the most popular media choices for Tunisians.  The analyses of the surveys and focus group interviews from this study, using SPSS and InVivo respectively, suggest that Tunisian women have very particular opinions about what actions constitute gendered violence; how women are treated at home and in public; what women and young girls’ behavior should be; and what kinds of initiatives are really working to protect them from physical and sexual violence since the 2011 Revolution.  Women also appear to be questioning the overall societal impact of the newly adopted constitutional reforms and the changes to the Penal Code through their personal reflections that reveal the some of the conservative leanings of its citizenry.



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