Barely 10 years old, Gisèle Halimi, born Zeiza Gisèle Elise Taïeb on July 27, 1927 in Tunis, had made her first hunger strike to claim her right to read. This strength of character will be the hallmark of this activist for the cause of women and the rights of peoples for freedom. At 16, she refused an arranged marriage and imposed her right to higher education in Paris. Back in her native country, she passed the bar in 1949 and began her career as a lawyer, but also as a convinced activist.
Once she settled in France, married and mother of a family, she continued her struggle for the independence of Algeria and Tunisia. History will remember her famous defense of Djamila Boupacha, an Algerian accused of planting a bomb, and who was arrested, tortured and raped by French soldiers. Ever since,Gisèle Halimi has been considered an advocate for difficult causes.
Gisèle Halimi also fought for the liberalization of abortion and the criminalization of rape. Thus in 1971, we find her among the signatories of the Manifesto of 343, published by Le Nouvel Observateur, and in which these women claim to have aborted, and therefore to have violated the law, and plead so that women no longer put their lives in danger by secretly aborting. The same year, Gisèle Halimi founded with Simone de Beauvoir the ‘Choisir La Cause des femmes’ movement, which took part in all feminist struggles and organized the defense of many abused women.
Today, and after more than seventy years of fighting and commitment in the service of justice and the cause of women, and after its 93rd birthday, Gisèle Halimi, the voice of the voiceless, has passed away.