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Men are legally obliged to maintain their wife and family in Tunisia - in fact, even when a wife is working, she usually keeps her earnings for herself.
Accordingly, the man is considered to be the "head of the family", even though his powers are, compared to other Arab countries, in Tunisia smaller. He can, for example, not prohibit his wife from working and the wife is allowed to file a divorce without his consent.
In reality, however, the man dominates the tunisian family and can impose restrictions to their leisure and lifestyle, especially to that of the female family members.
Men like, although higher education shifts increasingly their thinking, to spend their time together with other men (homosocial) in street cafes and are, thus, the largest part of the day not at home.
It is very rare that one can see a man alone (without his wife or another female family member) with his small children in the public - the raising of and care for children of the family is an exclusive domain of the women.
Men in Tunisia usually get married in the mid Twenties, but other than with women, there are also marriages in which older men marry young women, often in terms of a "Providing marriage". Even age differences of 30 and more years are, though not frequent, normal and socially accepted.
"Cheating" of men in marriage is not only desirable, but even widely socially accepted, even by the wives, as long as this does not happen in a public way.
This does not mean it happens all the time, but it is nowhere near an exception.
Women are exclusively responsible for the interior of a family and clean the house, cook meals and raise the children.
Although higher education changes the way of thinking, and in poorer families, the women must work to make ends meet, it is widely desireably, even for the women, to not work and spend their life as an homemaker - housewife and mother.
The virginity of a woman is a very high value and must be maintained until to the marriage. In some regions of Tunisia, the virginity will still be checked publicly after the wedding night ("bloody sheets").
reality, many women have, before their marriage, already experiences with men, this is not socially accepted.
A medical "restoration of virginity" before the marriage is
Illegitimate children are extremely rare, in case of pregnancies of unmarried women, usually abortions take place, even multiple times.
Women generally marry between 18-25 years of age, when they have an high education sometimes even up to about 30.
Thereafter, however, the chances of marriage are significantly reduced, primarily because it is desirable that a woman has many children at an early age.
Women over 30 are often left only with the options to stay single or to marry much older men (Provider marriage: she cares for the house and the needs of the man and receives the social status of a married woman and is being provided for).
Marriages of tunisian women who are more than 2 years older than the men are socially not accepted, not desireable and thus extremely rare.
The marriage of tunisian men with older european women (sometimes 5, 10 and even 20 and more years age difference), take place in almost all cases (and we talk here 99% and more), solely for financial and immigration reasons (Bezness in Tunisia) - and will often be terminated as soon as the goal is reached.
The consent of the father in the marriage of his adult daughter is, unlike in some other Arab countries, not required in Tunisia.
"Cheating" of women in a marriage happens, in reality, not much less than that of men, but it is not socially accepted at all and therefore takes place only secretly.
Children are not, as it happens in many western countries, extremely pampered, but are treated as a "normal" family, according to their age.
Although higher education changes the ways of thinking, for the time being, children are rather maintained than actively developed in their family.
There is not much that parents and their children do together (apart from the daily life), they are usually not much challenged artistically or intellectually and live widely through the day as it is structured by their natural needs (they eg. often sit at night together with their parents until they fall asleep and are then brought into bed).
The television is, in Tunisia, running continously and everywhere and often assumes the role of a babysitter.
Every Tunisian adult attends to children, takes them on the arm for a moment and speaks with them. However, tourists usually get by this the false impression that Tunisian love children very dearly - which is not the case.
Children of all ages roam almost all houses in Tunisia at any given
time and are therefore considered a "natural part of the
environment", but they are not exactly treated with the level of
protection, support and
attention, as it happens in most western countries.
European children often react defensive when they experience the attention of many unknown people and many parents have an uneasy feeling when their child is constantly touched - but this is, in Tunisia, a completely normal social behaviour.
Children in Tunisia can be beaten, in contrast to some countries in Europe, however, it is only permitted by law for persons who have the right of care.
In schools, beating of children is forbidden and can be punished, but takes place in quite a few schools on a regular scale anyway - and some parents even expect it.
Children are usually enrolled into school at the age of 5 and then go through a mandatory 9-10-year schooling.
While boys experience a great deal of freedom, girls are being trained from early age on to their future role as a wife and take over gradually work in the house from the mother.
The leisure time of girls is usually strictly regulated and monitored by the family and violations will be punished. One of the consequences of this upbringing is that girls rank in the social development in the family (chores, organizing family celebrations, parenting, etc.) way ahead of the girls in many western countries - but are very naive and inexperienced when it comes to relationships and general society matters (business etc.), the virtual difference can often mount up to 4-5 years (eg. a 20year old Tunisian girl is like a 15year old western girl).
Boys are subject to few restrictions on leisure time and are generally treated respectful and served in the family by their mother and sisters.
The collection of experiences with the opposite sex before marriage is, for boys, not especially encouraged, but socially well accepted.
Children become lawfully "adults" in Tunisia when they are 18 years old - however, in reality, they (specifically women) remain under the authority of the parents (namely their father) until they marry. And, for quite a few, it does not even change then.
The father of a tunisian child has always the right of determination of the residence for the child in Tunisia, which can become a problem for binational children in Tunisia.
The custody of children after a divorce is in Tunisia usally awarded to the mother, as long as she lives in Tunisia.