Algeria - Social development

A social insurance system for old age, disability, sickness and death cover all employees and self-employed persons. The program is financed with contributions from employees and employers. Retirement is set at age 60 for men and age 55 for women and veterans, with early retirement available for those in arduous work, mothers, and the disabled. Work injury benefits are available to all employed individuals including technical students, voluntary social security administrators, those undergoing rehabilitation, students, and certain prisoners. Only salaried workers are entitled to unemployment benefits. The law also provides for an employment related family allowance funded by the government and the employer.

The Family Code, based on Islamic principles, effectively treats women as legal minors for life, under the authority of the father, husband, or other male head of the family. The code permits polygamy and proscribes marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man while allowing a Muslim man to marry outside the faith. In a court of law, a woman's testimony is not considered as equal to a man's, and women do not have full legal guardianship of their children, requiring the father to sign all official documents.

Women are allowed to work but constitute only 10% of the work force. Traditional Islamic views of the role of women still dominate keeping most women from seeking jobs outside the home. The labor laws prohibit sexual discrimination in the workplace, but this is not enforced. Spousal abuse is a common problem especially in rural areas.

Ethnic tensions between the Arabs and the Berbers, who were the original inhabitants of Algeria, continue to exist. The government created the High Commission for Berber Affairs, which protects and promotes Berber language and culture. A national charter recognizes the language and cultural identity of the Amazigh ethnic minority, which is concentrated in the Kabylie region. The human rights record remains poor and includes extrajudicial killings, torture, and failure to control abuses by security personnel, including massacres of suspected Islamic militants.

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