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Usually, women who travel to Tunisia, are encouraged to dress "decently and conservatively" according to the islamic dress rules, such as, for example, shirts covering the shoulders, long skirts or pants, no jewelry or makeup.

Women who follow these recommendations will, however, soon find out that some of the tunisian women wear shoulder-free shirts, sometimes even short skirts, often striking jewelry and almost always makeup.

Fact is that at least many young tunisian women, especially those who are financially better off and live in the tourist areas and large cities, dress very much "western" and follow the latest fashion of Italy and France.

Since the uprising of the year 2011, muslim fundamental groups (Salafists, etc.) propagate increasingly the full cover veil (Niqab) for women.

This has resulted in increasing peer pressure and growing numbers of tunisian women wearing at least the headscarf or a part veil (
Hijab), and a few even wear the Niqab now.

In rural areas, though (and these often start already at the border of  large cities and a few steps away from tourist zones!), the traditional and islamic dress codes are predominant.

For tourists who stay mostly in the tourist zones and large cities, there is, therefore, hardly any reason to dress "covered".

If one is visiting rural areas and traditional districts in towns, some decent clothing is recommended, namely for women.

Such areas are, however, almost never the destination of organized excursions of travel agencies.
Even the excursions to "authentic traditional areas" always end up with people who are very much used to be visited every day by large numbers of tourists...

Satellite dishes are nowadays on each and every roof in Tunisia and all young people watch the channels broadcasting music videos and american series all the time.
So, the population is used to the western dress style - and their opinion is made up already, be it positive or negative.

However, simple "tunisian" clothes are quite inexpensive and can be bought easily everywhere in Tunisia, when it is really needed (hint: just have a look at what the Tunisians are wearing on the streets and then buy something that blends in - this way, you can't go wrong).

One can often hear the claim that tunisian men will be "spoilt" by barely dressed european women and are thus thrown into a permanent state of "desire". Or you will even hear that people in Tunisia will "loose their culture" altogether because of the tourists.

However, such stories are made rather to be told on a boring evening amongst Europeans.

A European woman will, no matter how she is dressed, not be accepted as equal in the tunisian society - and not because she does not cover her forearms, but simply because she
in not a tunisian, not a north african, not an arabian, not a muslim.
And she won't gain, just after a few holiday visits to Tunisia, access to the society in Tunisia, no matter what she wears and no matter what she believes or is made believe.

And the same is true for European men, although to a somewhat lower degree.

A remark at the end: One can often hear that European women are  "dressed like prostitutes" - but this is nonsense and just a protective claim (watch who complains...), because tunisian prostitutes are on one hand only rarely out in the public and on the second hand they are rather dressed "normal", conservative, to blend into the scene.

And, in what happens behind closed doors, the difference between "honorable" tunisian women and European women are fading very quick...



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