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Tunisia: Concern over increase in violent crime rate

Tunisia may have maintained its status as "the icon of the Arab Spring" over the past decade, but the recent increase in violent crime across the country has sparked a wave of indignation and fear, Anadolu has reported.

The frequency of rape and armed robbery has increased and attracted the attention of local and international media away from Tunisian politics.

On 25 September, for example, a girl named Rahma Lahmar was raped, murdered and mutilated in the Ain Zaghouan area near the capital Tunis. The crime sparked public outrage.

While the government pledges repeatedly to conduct transparent investigations to catch and punish the criminals, psychologist Abdelbasset Al-Fakih believes that shining a spotlight on repeated and sometimes recurrent crimes of this type in all societies may cause them to increase in frequency. "The statistics show a recent increase in violence, but it is still within normal limits," he explained.

READ: Do the security forces in Tunisia really need a law to protect them?

Al-Fakih attributes the increase in crime rates to, most notably "The weakening family ties and early school dropout. The character of the delinquent who has been idolised in several drama series on Tunisian television gives a veneer of prestige to delinquency and criminals."

Moreover, he added, many young people, especially adolescents, have become victims of cyber violence through unsupervised video games and apps. He stressed the importance of focusing on cultural and social activities and spreading a culture of rights and duties in order to maintain the psychological and educational balance of youngsters in Tunisia.

The expert called on the Tunisian authorities to monitor cyberspace closely as well as educational institutions and the content of television drama in order to help reduce violent incidents and spot deviant tendencies in children in order to treat them.

Sociologist Mohamed Al-Jouili warned of the danger of paving the way for the emergence of a new pattern of crimes, which are not restricted to convicted criminals. "The time span between a simple quarrel and a murder has become very short, which carries negative connotations that invite us to search and look for the underlying causes," he said.

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"In addition to the usual causes of crime such as unemployment, marginalisation and poverty, the changing consumption patterns of society have had a great influence on the growth of violence in Tunisia."

The decline of social institutions responsible for raising and educating the youth in exchange for the rise of a culture that prioritises consumption, the sociologist pointed out, leads some individuals to commit crimes in order to obtain material benefits. He called for the restoration of effective security monitoring of society, and the extension of a balanced and reassuring political discourse.

The Tunisian reform movement remains a role model in the region having managed to write a new constitution and preserve the sovereignty and functionality of state institutions amid a prevailing state of chaos and conflict in the region. Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolutions almost ten years ago.

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