IndexMiddle East Supra-Saharan Africa Tunisia


In rural Tunisia, the matter of menstruation is shrouded in hishma, shame; it is not talked about, and even in progressive families its occurrence is met with interpretations involving “a serious and shameful disease” (Gram, 1974:[p110])[1]. Afterwards, the girl is not allowed outside the house “for anything but the most legitimate social reasons”; paradoxically, they are encouraged to dress up and “look attractive”. This corresponds to behaviour of the father towards his three-year-old girl, who “encourages a sort of demanding flirtatious feminine behavior forbidden his wife” ([p96]). Whether traditionally tattooed or not, “little girls are encouraged to think of themselves as objects, played with and decorated by their male relations”. Her transition to adolescence would be “hardly noticeable”.









Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Dec 2004


[1] Gram, M. E. (1974) Women of Tazoghrane, in Simmons, J. (Ed.) Village and Family: Essays on Rural Tunisia. New Haven: HRAF, [p65-175]