Gisèle Halimi

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Gisèle Halimi
Gisele Halimi Front de Gauche 2009-03-08.jpg
Halimi in 2009
Permanent Representative of France to UNESCO
In office
13 April 1985 – 1 September 1986
PresidentFrançois Mitterrand
Preceded byJacqueline Baudrier
Succeeded byMarie-Claude Cabana
Member of the National Assembly
for Isère's 4th constituency
In office
21 June 1981 – 9 September 1984
Preceded byJacques-Antoine Gau
Succeeded byMaurice Rival
Personal details
Zeiza Gisèle Élise Taïeb

(1927-07-27)27 July 1927
La Goulette, Tunis, Tunisia
Died28 July 2020(2020-07-28) (aged 93)
7th arrondissement of Paris, France
Spouse(s)Paul Halimi (divorced)
Claude Faux
Children3 (including Serge Halimi)
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Sciences Po

Gisèle Halimi (born Zeiza Gisèle Élise Taïeb; 27 July 1927 – 28 July 2020) was a Tunisian-French lawyer, politician, essayist and feminist activist.[1]


Zeiza Gisèle Élise Taïeb was born in La Goulette, Tunisia, on 27 July 1927 to a practicing very modest Jewish Berber family (to Edouard et Fortunée dite "Fritna" Taïeb). She was educated at a French lycée in Tunis, and then attended the University of Paris, graduating in law and philosophy. Her childhood and the ways in which she blends a Jewish-Muslim identity are discussed in her memoir, Le lait de l'oranger. She was first married to Paul Halimi, and then to Claude Faux.[2] She died the day after her 93rd birthday, on 28 July 2020.[3]


In 1948, Halimi qualified as a lawyer and, after eight years at the Tunis bar,[4] moved to practise at the Paris bar in 1956.[4] She acted as a counsel for the Algerian National Liberation Front,[4] most notably for the activist Djamila Boupacha in 1960,[4] who had been raped and tortured by French soldiers,[4] and wrote a book in 1961 (with an introduction by Simone de Beauvoir)[4] to plead her case.[4] She also defended Basque individuals accused of crimes committed during the conflict in Basque Country, and was counsel in many cases related to women's issues,[4] such as the 1972 Bobigny abortion trial (of a 17-year-old accused of procuring an abortion after having been raped),[4] which attracted national attention.

In 1967, she chaired the Russell Tribunal, which was initiated by Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre to investigate and evaluate American military action in Vietnam.[citation needed]

In 1971, she founded the feminist group Choisir (transl. To Choose)[5] to protect the women who had signed the Manifesto of the 343 admitting to having illegal abortions, of which she was one.[4][6] In 1972 Choisir formed itself into a clearly reformist body, and the campaign greatly influenced the passing of the law allowing contraception and abortion carried through by Simone Veil in 1974.[citation needed]

In 1981, she was elected to the French National Assembly,[4] as an independent Socialist, and was Deputy for Isère until 1984. Between 1985 and 1987 she was a French legate to UNESCO.[7]

In 1998, she was a founding member of ATTAC.[8]


Title English translation Time of first publication First edition publisher/publication Unique identifier Notes
Djamila Boupacha 1962 Gallimard ISBN 978-2070205240
Le procès de Burgos The Burgos Trials 1971 ISBN 978-2070279487
La cause des femmes The Cause of Women 1973 ISBN 2-246-00028-9
Avortement, une loi en procès Abortion, a Law on Trial 1973 ISBN 2-246-00028-9
The Right to Choose 1977 ISBN 0-7022-1433-7
Viol, Le procès d'Aix: Choisir la cause des femmes Rape, the Aix Trial: Choosing the Cause of Women 1978 ISBN 978-2070353989
Le Programme commun des femmes The Common Women's Program 1978 ISBN 2-246-00572-8
le Lait de l'Oranger Milk for the Orange Tree 1988 ISBN 0-7043-2738-4
Une embellie perdue A Lost Beauty 1995 ISBN 2-07-073788-8
La nouvelle cause des femmes The New Cause of Women 1997 ISBN 2-02-031973-X
Fritna 1999 ISBN 2-259-19134-7
La parité dans la vie politique Parity in Political Life 1999 ISBN 2-11-004376-8
Avocate irrespectueuse Disrespectful Counsel 2002 ISBN 2-259-19453-2
Le procès de Bobigny: Choisir la cause des femmes The Bobigny Trial: Choosing the Cause of Women 2006 ISBN 2-07-077515-1 Preface by Simone de Beauvoir
La Kahina 2006 ISBN 2-259-20314-0
Ne vous résignez jamais Never Resign Yourself 2009 ISBN 978-2-259-20941-0
Histoire d'une passion History of a Passion 2011 Plon ISBN 2-259-21394-4


  1. ^ Lawrence D. Kritzman; Brian J. Reilly; Malcolm DeBevoise (September 2007). The Columbia History of Twentieth-Century French Thought. Columbia University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-231-10790-7. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Gisèle Halimi - Sa bio et toute son actualité". (in French). Retrieved 28 July 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "L'avocate Gisèle Halimi, défenseuse passionnée de la cause des femmes, est morte". Le Monde (in French). 28 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Une vie : Gisèle Halimi". Brut (in French). 28 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  5. ^ Raylene L. Ramsay (2003). French women in politics: writing power, paternal legitimization, and maternal legacies. Berghahn Books. pp. 135–139. ISBN 978-1-57181-081-6. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  6. ^ Le manifeste des 343 Archived 23 April 2001 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "France". UNESCO. 17 October 2007. Archived from the original on 19 October 2003. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
  8. ^ "ATTAC founding members" (in French). Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012.


Further reading[edit]

  • General Paul Aussaresses, The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Algeria, 1955-1957. (New York: Enigma Books, 2010) ISBN 9781929631308.
  • Natalie Edwards, The Autobiographies of Julia Kristeva, Gisèle Halimi, Assia Djebar and Hélène Cixous : beyond "I" versus "we". (Chicago: Northwestern University, 2005) ISBN 0542173042.