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Tunisia’s national assembly votes for gender equality in new charter

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Tunisia’s national assembly on Monday approved an article in the draft constitution that would guarantee gender equality “without discrimination” in the Muslim nation.

“All male and female citizens have the same rights and duties. They are equal before the law without discrimination,” states article 20 of the new charter, which was approved by 159 lawmakers out of the 169 who voted.

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Tunisia hopes to adopt the long-delayed new constitution by January 14, the three-year anniversary of the overthrow of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt that kicked off the Arab Spring.

Since the 1950s, when it gained independence from France, Tunisia has had the most liberal laws in the Arab world on women’s rights, which some have accused the outgoing Islamist-led government of wanting to roll back.

Human rights groups had expressed reservations about article 20 of the constitution, arguing that it limits the protection of rights to citizens and not foreigners, and does not specify the prohibited grounds of discrimination.

They urged the assembly, in a joint statement last week, to “enshrine the principles of equality and non-discrimination before the law and extend it to anyone subject to the jurisdiction of Tunisian authorities, including both citizens and foreigners.”

“Article 20 should specify that discrimination, direct and indirect, is prohibited on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,” said the NGOs, which included Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

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Article 45, which would guarantee the protection of women’s rights by the state and the “equality of opportunity for men and women,” has yet to be examined.

The ruling Islamist party Ennahda, which has promised to step down when the new constitution is adopted, came in for heavy criticism when it tried to press through the idea of gender “complementarity” rather than equality.

After lawmakers have voted on the draft constitution article by article, it needs to be approved by two-thirds of parliament’s 217 members to be adopted. Otherwise, it will have to be put to a referendum.

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Internet reacts as Obama breaks silence on George Floyd: ‘Great to hear from a real president’

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On Wednesday, former President Barack Obama gave an address on the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests against police brutality — giving words of encouragement to peaceful demonstrators and calling for major structural reform to heal the divisions between police and the communities they serve.

Barack Obama: "As tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they've been, they've also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends and they offer an opportunity for us to all work together..." pic.twitter.com/wLBhmRy4aT

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Analysis finds nearly one third of owed unemployment benefits have not been paid

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Bloomberg found a $67 billion gap between the sum of benefits paid out by the Treasury Department and the amount that is owed to jobless Americans.

Bloomberg analysis released Tuesday estimates that nearly a third of the unemployment benefits owed to jobless Americans have not yet been paid out, a finding critics described as a "scandal" deserving of more media attention as millions of people struggle to afford basic expenses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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DC cop explains why it was so important for him to kneel with protesters

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Officer Carlton Wilhoit scrolled through social media posts before he went to work on Sunday reading many anti-police statements.

As the Washington Post describes it, he suited up and went to work as protesters continued to surround the White House. He, along with his colleagues, were standing in the middle of 16th Street with a crowd of about 60 protesters implored him, "kneel for us." He said he knew he had to.

https://twitter.com/simonmadowa/status/1267448881169731587

“For me, kneeling was the right thing to do,” the young officer told the Post. “At the end of the day, I’m black first. If I were to lose my job today or tomorrow, or if I were to choose a different career path, one thing that would still remain when I take this uniform off is I’m a black man.”

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