Gisèle Halimi

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

Gisèle Halimi
Gisele Halimi Front de Gauche 2009-03-08.jpg
Halimi in 2009
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)
Paris, France
Spouse(s)Paul Halimi (divorced)
Claude Faux
Children3 (including Serge Halimi)
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Sciences Po


Halimi was born in La Goulette, Tunisia, on 27 July 1927 to a Jewish mother and a Berber Muslim father. 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
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.
  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 readingEdit

  • 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.