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Outcry after French court rules on virginity

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Angus, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. Angus

    Angus Active Member

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    Outcry after French court rules on virginity
    Jun 4 03:22 PM US/Eastern
    By ELAINE GANLEY
    Associated Press Writer


    PARIS (AP) - The bride said she was a virgin. When her new husband discovered that was a lie, he went to court to annul the marriage—and a French judge agreed.

    The ruling ending the Muslim couple's union has stunned France and raised concerns the country's much-cherished secular values are losing ground to religious traditions from its fast-growing immigrant communities.

    The decision also exposed the silent shame borne by some Muslim women who transgress long-held religious dictates demanding proof of virginity on the wedding night.

    In its ruling, the court concluded the woman had misrepresented herself as a virgin and that, in this particular marriage, virginity was a prerequisite.

    But in treating the case as a breach of contract, the ruling was decried by critics who said it undermined decades of progress in women's rights. Marriage, they said, was reduced to the status of a commercial transaction in which women could be discarded by husbands claiming to have discovered hidden defects in them.

    The court decision "is a real fatwa against the emancipation and liberty of women. We are returning to the past," said Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara, the daughter of immigrants from Muslim North Africa, using the Arabic term for a religious decree.

    The outcry has been unrelenting since word of the April 1 decision in the closed-door trial in Lille was made public last week by the daily newspaper Liberation. In its judgment, the tribunal said the 2006 marriage had been ended based on "an error in the essential qualities" of the bride, "who had presented herself as single and chaste."

    Justice Minister Rachida Dati, whose parents also were born in North Africa, initially shrugged off the ruling—but the public clamor reached such a pitch that she asked the prosecutor's office this week to lodge an appeal.

    What began as a private matter "concerns all the citizens of our country and notably women," a statement from her ministry said.

    The appeal was filed Tuesday and three judges could hear the case sometime this month, said Eric Vaillant of the appeals court in Douai, near Lille.

    The hitch is that both the young woman and the man at the center of the drama are opposed to an appeal, according to their lawyers. The names of the woman, a student in her 20s, and the man, an engineer in his 30s, have not been disclosed.

    The young woman's lawyer, Charles-Edouard Mauger, said she was distraught by the dragging out of the humiliating case. In an interview on Europe 1 radio, he quoted her as saying: "I don't know who's trying to think in my place. I didn't ask for anything. ... I wasn't the one who asked for the media attention, for people to talk about it, and for this to last so long."

    The issue is particularly distressing for France because the government has fought to maintain strong secular traditions as demographics change. An estimated 5 million Muslims live in the country of 64 million, the largest Muslim population in Western Europe.

    France passed a law in 2004 banning Muslim headscarves and other ostentatious religious signs from classrooms, a move that caused an uproar in the Muslim world.

    Now, critics contend another law on the books is being used to effectively condone the custom requiring a woman to enter marriage as a virgin, and prove it with bloodstained sheets on her wedding night.

    Article 180 of the Civil Code states that when a couple enters into a marriage, if the "essential qualities" of a spouse are misrepresented, then "the other spouse can seek the nullity of the marriage." Past examples of marriages that were annulled include a husband found to be impotent and a wife who was a prostitute, according to attorney Xavier Labbee.

    Ironically, Article 180 also guards against forced marriages.

    Labbee, the lawyer for the bridegroom in question, says it was not the young woman's virginity that was at issue.

    "The question is not one of virginity. The question is one of lying," he told The Associated Press.

    "In the ruling, there is no word 'Muslim,' there is no word 'religion,' there is no word 'custom.' And if one speaks of virginity it is with the term 'a lie."

    Labbee said both the man and the woman "understand that annulling the marriage is preferable to divorce because it wipes the slate clean (of) what you want to forget, but divorce wipes away nothing."

    Indeed, the court ruling states that the woman "acquiesced" to the demand for an annulment "based on a lie concerning her virginity."

    "One can deduce that this quality (virginity) was seen by her as an essential quality that was decisive" in the man's decision to marry, the ruling said.

    Prime Minister Francois Fillon said an appeal must be lodged "so this ruling does not set a judicial precedent."

    In a rare show of agreement, politicians on the left and right said the court's action does not reflect French values.

    "In a democratic and secular country, we cannot consider virginity as an essential quality of marriage," said an expert on French secularism, Jacqueline Costa-Lascoux.

    The decision underscored the painful predicament faced today by many Muslim women in France and elsewhere in the West who become sexually emancipated but remain bound by strict codes of honor inherited and enforced by their families—and prospective husbands.

    It is not unusual for young Muslim women to procure fake virginity certificates, use tricks like vials of spilled blood on the wedding night or even undergo hymen repair to satisfy family expectations, and evade the shame that would follow if their secret got out.

    An informal survey by The Associated Press in 2006 found numerous private clinics in the Paris region where such surgery is performed, as well as doctors who supply fake virginity certificates before a marriage.

    "Today, the judicial system of a modern country cannot hold to these savage traditions, completely inhuman for the young woman," said the rector of the Paris Mosque, Dalil Boubakeur.

    He likened the court decision to "equating marriage with a commercial transaction."

    Like some others, Boubakeur, a moderate, voiced fears that Muslim fundamentalists would seek to profit from the Lille ruling "as they have done with the veil. ... Fundamentalists use (head scarves) like their flag."

    "We ask Muslims to live in their era," he said.

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D913EOHO0&show_article=1
  2. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    How does an annulment in France differ from an annulment in the US? And would this situation have been handled any differently in the US?
  3. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

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    I don't know if a judge in the US would grant an annulment due a man claiming his wife was not a virgin. Now I don't know the law on annulments but I am thinking you just file some paperwork and it is pretty much a given it will be granted. I just don't know how many times it would be for the reason that guy gave.
  4. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    I don't know about the US, but in Canada, annulments are pretty hard to get and there is no way you would get one because your wife lied about being a virgin. You basically get one here if one party was already married or if you had an incurable aversion to consummating the marriage. Given 99.9% of couples do it before marriage now, the consummating thing has basically gone out the window.

    Anyway, how the hell could the guy tell. Don't give me the blood on the sheets line either as they can break the hymen many ways now.
  5. peplaw06

    peplaw06 That Guy

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    I don't know about other states, but in TX, like CCF said, annulments are very tough to get.

    Basically in Texas, you have to prove some kind of fraud on the marriage. The primary example is usually something like if one spouse finds out that the other is barren or sterile. Some other examples would be if one party misrepresented that they were over 18, or the spouses were under the influence when they got married, or someone lacked the mental capacity to get married.

    Something else that has to be proven in Texas is that once the party seeking the annulment found out about whatever grounds they allege, they couldn't have voluntarily lived with their spouse.

    So yeah, it's hard to prove.... If the annulment was contested in court like this one was, 1) the virginity thing wouldn't be sufficient grounds, and 2) if it were grounds, they would have had to moved away from each other immediately.

    But if it's an uncontested thing and both parties want the annulment, then they can stipulate to the grounds, say they never lived together, and presto... marriage annulled.
  6. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

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    Well you have more knowledge in the law so I will take your word for it.

    I just thought it was easy. I know two people that got married right after HS graduation (this was back in 88) and the next time I saw them a few years later they said they had the marriage annulled within a week. I also knew someone else a couple years back that had their marriage annulled after a few days as well. I guess those are the only two cases I know the people first hand so I assumed (yes yes I know about assume) it was easy.

    However, again, I will take your word for it.:cool:
  7. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    Muchos Gracias.

    Your information was very enlightening, peplaw. I'm trying to formulate an opinion.
  8. SultanOfSix

    SultanOfSix Star Power

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    I really don't understand what the outcry is about. The man considered the virginity of the woman important, she lied about it, he found out, and sought an annullment. What's the big deal?

    France is a country that has been pretty fiercely anti-Islamic in its rhetoric, and I see this as just another attempt by it to take shots at the religion. This is the same country that wanted to force by law, that Muslim women should not be allowed to wear hijab in public.

    There is no religious mandate that I am aware of doesn't allow a Muslim man to marry a non-virgin, although typically the loss of virginity is due to marriage in any tradition, and not outside of marriage, i.e. due to fornication. Regardless, even if the man felt this way due to his religion, I don't see why religion is being brought into the picture as some sort of violation of "secular rights" and why this is such a huge issue. It's not like the marriage would succeed if this continues to be a big problem for him.
  9. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    I'm leaning towards your position.

    The issue here seems to be one of dishonesty and false pretenses rather than virginity.

    I also share your position on France. Making someone conform to a secular lifestyle is fundamentally no different from making someone conform to a religious lifestyle; the point of contention is that a governing body is imposing a certain value system on people, regardless of whether the value system is intrinsically religious or secular.
  10. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    Come on, you aren't really saying you consider the decision valid?

    For God sake, the woman got a little before marriage, what's the big deal.

    Pep, do you mean you get an annulment in some US jurisdictions if the woman is barren? Does it also work if the guy's swimmers don't um swim?

    Brain, there is usually no reason for annulments anymore as divorce is pretty much no fault in most civilized western countries. The only reason to get an annulment for a marriage that is void abinitio is to clarify your status for division of assets, spousal support etc. In BC where I practice, even if you have an annulment to the marriage, you are still entitled to claim an asset division and spousal etc
  11. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    It was apparently a "big deal" to them. Do you think its your call to make? And I ask the question not in accusation but in pure curiosity and in consideration of other opinions that have been expressed on this board regarding marriage and the imposition of definitions.
  12. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    if you allow someone to get out of a marriage on that pretence, then do they get out on all fibs?

    most people lie about their sexual exploits, thus is the world made.

    it is a slippery slope. does the next person get out of a marriage because say the husband said his ***** was "x" long and circumcised when it was really "y" long and uncircumcised?

    by acknowledging and giving credence to that position, you have basically sent the drive for woman's equality back to the dark ages.

    I'm very surprised a progressive country like France would have a decision in this regard.
  13. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    "Fibs" are probably well integrated into the process at this point. The government can only hope to expose the obvious ones.

    This argument is virtually identical to another argument: Does legalization of gay marriage pave the way for legalization of polygamous unions and pedophilia?

    As I recall, you roundly denounced that line of argumentation.

    Not if the position is applied equally for both sexes.
  14. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    It isn't the same argument. Gay marriage affects no one and there are good reasons why it will not lead to polygamy and pedophilic unions.

    The granting an annulment on such a frivolous basis can and should be argued when you want out of a valid marriage for another frivolous reason.

    Please Scipio, you aren't dumb. If you think the decision would have been the same if the guy had claimed to be a virgin and not been, I have a bridge to sell you.
  15. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    How does an annulment on the basis of misrepresented virginity have any farther reaching implications than the legalization of gay marriage?

    Quite frankly, the argument that gay marriage will pave the way for polygamy is every bit as valid as your argument that annulments granted on the basis of misrepresented virginity will lead to annulments on the basis of misrepresented ***** size.

    Who defines what's frivilous? You? Deeming a reason "frivolous" sounds remarkably absolutist, and as I recall, you stated last night that you "don't deal in absolutes."

    So the French are sexist now? I thought you deemed them "progressive."

    Do you always argue in such an inconsistent manner?;)
  16. peplaw06

    peplaw06 That Guy

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    I need to clarify that slightly. The statute says... if one party for physical or mental reasons was permanently impotent at the time of marriage, the claimant didn't know, and they didn't live together after learning about the impotency.

    The editor's comment to the statute says it doesn't cover infertility, but it's the inability to have sexual intercourse. I was going off memory on that yesterday, but I was close.;) Needless to say, we don't come across that very often.
  17. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    getting an annulment because the woman was not a virgin is frivolous under an absolute, inabsolute or any kind of argument.

    The French are progressive for the most part, that is what makes such a decision from a French judge even more shocking.

    Gay marriage between two consenting adults is NOT the same as polygamy where older men marry teen age girls and keep them for the most part in servitude.

    Dumping someone because they didn't bleed on the wedding night is pretty similar to a woman being able to claim that the man's ***** was smaller than expected so therefore, I want out of the marriage.
  18. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    pretty much similar to the common law up here. In the end, I have done 2 annulments in my entire career. I had one ask me for one while her three children waited in the waiting room. I said unless they were IVF babies, I assume you had intercourse at least three times, she laughed and I said no annulment.
  19. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    Umm...no.

    Only an absolutist position would dismiss the situation as frivolous in totality. The non-absolutist position would contend that the level of frivolity is contingent upon the personal opinions of the people invovled in the annulment.

    ...just as getting an annulment on the basis of misrepresented virginity is far different from getting annulment on the basis of ***** length. The latter is far easier to ascertain than the former.

    There's absolutely no indication the ruling was solely a product of her failure to "bleed" on her wedding night. The courts accused her of lying, and the article doesn't report any denial on her part.
  20. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    please, even you would admit it is frivolous.

    Only a misogynist or a loser would care about a woman's virginity. How's that for absolutism.

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