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Informal Transactions with the Police

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The Case of Tunisian “Sex Crimes”

image of Middle East Law and Governance

This article examines the intersection between, on the one hand, informal transactions with the police and, on the other, ‘sex crimes.’ Although prohibited by law, informal transactions have not been eradicated from the dealing between the police and civilians in Tunisia. Such transactions take place in case people have violated the law, but also, as this paper shows, when people have committed a ‘crime’ that is not described by legislation. In these cases, extra-legislative, informal norms are at play in two ways: the informal norm prescribing ‘paying off’ the police officer, and the informal norm prohibiting a certain dealing between the sexes. By describing the workings of such transactions in detail, this article presents an insight in what Blundo and De Sardan call the ‘état du quotidien’ in Tunisia under the authoritarian regime.

Affiliations: 1: Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and Humboldt Universität,


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