French court annuls Muslim marriage because wife wasn’t a virgin

posted at 1:41 pm on May 30, 2008 by Allahpundit

Via Robert Jago. At first glance I thought this was one of those cases involving a contract written according to shari’a principles and then enforced by a civil court as any contract might be. Those pop up from time to time even in the U.S. and always elicit some grumbling, although they usually have to do with financial arrangements — inheritance, say, or loans — and not the more “colorful” aspects of shari’a, so no one much cares. This would have been different had it been the same thing. But it isn’t. There’s no shari’a contract here from what I can tell. They got married under regular ol’ French law, which provides for an annulment in cases where one spouse is guilty of deceiving the other about some “essential quality.” (Breach of the standard state marriage contract, in other words.) Evidently, virginity now qualifies as an “essential quality”:

The decision by a court in Lille has triggered outrage from the Government, media, feminists and rights organisations since it surfaced in a legal journal on Thursday. Patrick Devedjian, leader of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement, said that it was unacceptable that the law could be used for religious reasons to repudiate a bride. It must be modified “to put an end to this extremely disturbing situation”, he said…

The annulment was defended by Xavier Labbée, the lawyer for Ms Y. The decision was justified because of the bride’s deception, not her virginity, he said. “Quite simply it is about a lie,” he said. “The groom realised that his wife had not told him the truth. Religion did not motivate the decision … but it is true that religious convictions played a role.”

I can’t tell from the reports whether the court applied an objective or subjective standard in deciding that virginity is essential, and I also can’t decide which would be worse. If it’s subjective, i.e. if the question is “does this particular husband regard it as essential,” then the court’s potentially building out a separate legal track for Muslims and/or anyone else who might culturally place a greater value on virginity than the French do generally. If it’s objective, i.e. if the question is “would any reasonable husband regard it as essential,” then this becomes valid grounds for any Frenchman to seek an annulment and Europe’s most famously permissive culture will have taken a mighty nuanced turn. Follow the link to the Times of London and read through to see how the incentives flowing from the decision are being gamed out: Feminists say, correctly, that this is only going to encourage Muslim women to seek hymenoplasties while “Liberation” argues (ironically) that this could be a useful legal escape hatch for women subjected to arranged marriages. The way to undo this lickety split, of course, would be for a court to uphold the ruling — and extend it so that it applies equally to men. Chastity until marriage on penalty of annulment? The French parliament would have a new bill ready within a week.


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Keep yur damn virgins, gimme a girl who knows what the hell she’s doing.

Geronimo on May 30, 2008 at 2:47 PM

Some of us girls do know what the hell we’re doing and that’s why we’re still virgins. ;)

Seriously, the standard here is the honesty, I think.

Before you dismiss the above argument as silly, can’t a muslin man just assume that a woman knows he would consider virginity an essential quality?

blink on May 30, 2008 at 4:44 PM

Agree. “Essential quality” should be judged from the standard of the POV of the prospective bride and the prospective groom, not “the mores of whatever society you live in.” Supposing a devout Mormom woman married a man who swore to her he was a teetolaler (he knew full well that Mormons think this is very important), but he lied about it) then proceeded to have beer parties and get drunk with his friends every night the minute they got married.

Or supposing a man made clear to his wife before they got married that he wanted to try for a lot of their own children but she purposely withheld the fact of her hysterectomy and ovarectomy until two days after the wedding. Would I support the annulment in these cases? Yes.

inviolet on May 30, 2008 at 5:04 PM

Professor Blather on May 30, 2008 at 4:06 PM

That is why people like you and I are doing something about it Prof.

upinak on May 30, 2008 at 5:07 PM

Here’s my question: has there ever in history been a time when what was coming was so clear to so many people, yet absolutely nobody did anything about it?

Professor Blather on May 30, 2008 at 4:06 PM

Yet. Some people seem to tolerate cliffs better than others. Me, I wear a belt and suspenders.

JiangxiDad on May 30, 2008 at 5:30 PM

blink on May 30, 2008 at 5:50 PM

Not everyone believe there is one true “Love” and most of us have had “change” happen during the marriage. You know what I am talking about don’t you… where the person you married, turns from what they were into something you can’t recognize.

Also, not big on cheaters myself.

upinak on May 30, 2008 at 5:52 PM

Before you dismiss the above argument as silly, can’t a muslin man just assume that a woman knows he would consider virginity an essential quality?

blink on May 30, 2008 at 4:44 PM

This is me discarding your argument as silly, because it is. Practically anyone marrying a devout Muslim is going to be aware that they tend to place great importance on such matters.

Hollowpoint on May 30, 2008 at 5:52 PM

blink on May 30, 2008 at 6:08 PM

If I told you I misunderstood your post, would you slap me? Man I need to get some sleep…. sorry!

upinak on May 30, 2008 at 6:21 PM

Look at the bright side…they won’t have children so there will be that many less muslims in the world.

orlandocajun on May 30, 2008 at 6:22 PM

Annulment or divorce?????

Overall, I’m shocked at the low threshold many of you have for annulment.

blink on May 30, 2008 at 5:50 PM

It’s a good question, but, well..would have to say annulment as well as divorce (the civil dissolving of a valid marriage), since the person substantially (“essential quality”) misrepresented him or herself to the prospective spouse.

How could the marriage contract, or even the higher religious concept of covenant, even be enacted if you start out by misrepresenting, purposely and substantially, the “self” you present for covenanting, to your prospective spouse? Hence there IS even no valid contract or covenant in the first place (what an annulment says).

This is different from being totally honest with your spouse and then having something unforeseen happen that throws all your plans into a cocked hat. That’s already covered, under “for better or for worse.”

inviolet on May 30, 2008 at 6:23 PM

You can’t be a little bit pregnant, or have a little bit of sharia.

Welcome to the future. Or, as that guy on Max Headroom said, “Remember when we told you there was no future, well this is it.”

whiskey_199 on May 30, 2008 at 7:05 PM

You kidding right,you mean to tell me the muslim
women falsified her vigin,pure as the drivin snow
where fine Canadian beavers dared to pee,documents!

Oh just great,now there’s probably 10 million muslim
women out there with falsified and doctored up virgin
certificates!

This is exactly what happenes when theres no crack
down of illegal documents been forged out of Mexico!
(Snark),Haha :)

canopfor on May 30, 2008 at 7:45 PM

Curious. If the guy told his fiance that he was ‘hung like a horse’, and then on the wedding night, she found out that he had a ’2 calibre pistol’…would the courts award an annulment?

percysunshine on May 31, 2008 at 12:07 AM

Curious. If the guy told his fiance that he was ‘hung like a horse’, and then on the wedding night, she found out that he had a ‘2 calibre pistol’was hung like a thumbtack, would the courts award an annulment?
percysunshine on May 31, 2008 at 12:07 AM

There, I fixed it for you.

NightmareOnKStreet on May 31, 2008 at 1:37 AM

Entelechy on May 30, 2008 at 4:30 PM

It’s been a good year for me. But, I’m in training so I’ve had to cut back on the brontasaurus burgers. Apparently, steaks pacify me.

The Race Card on May 31, 2008 at 2:04 AM

Good for the bride!
I hope she finds a Good person to marry now.

bridgetown on June 1, 2008 at 9:46 AM

Comment pages: 1 2