Friday, 13 June 2008

No prince charming for non-virgin bride

Non-virgin Muslim brides beware! Even in France, the country that heralds secularity, freedom and equality, you might not find a groom!
That’s what we’ve learned from last week’s news:
It’s the story of a French court that decided to annul a marriage because the bride had lied about her virginity.

The case started in the northern town of Lille, on the wedding night, two years ago.
The 30-year old groom was shocked to discover that his newlywed had had a previous lover and asked her to leave their home instantly.

After pleading her case, the bride decided to move on and accepted the annulment.
The judge was surprised at first by the request. She asked the man why he wouldn’t file for a divorce. He said “he refused to divorce because that would mean there was some kind of failure on his behalf – whereas he considers the marriage was flawed from the start”.
Indeed, why argue?

Eventually, the judge figured that this was not just any couple, this was a Muslim couple and according to her, Muslim standards and values are not the same as the ones of the genuine French population’s. So she concluded this was the best way to go and made the annulment official on April 1st.
The case was unprecedented.

Until Monday, only a few feminists were shocked by the affair, which failed to move public opinion.
Justice Minister Rachida Dati herself said “the annulment was a way of protecting the people involved”. Meaning: the young woman was better off without that husband so why bother criticise the decision?

The idea of asking the man to file for a divorce didn’t cross anyone’s mind.

Few officials reacted to this decision. Among the half dozen who did, was the
mayor who pronounced my own wedding, Hervé Mariton. He approved the decision and called Dati to support her.
“The lie justifies the annulment of the wedding” Mariton told reporters “The bride should have been honest. Instead, she lied.”

Fadela Amara, a Muslim women’s rights militant and junior minister in charge of impoverished suburbs, said the story was presented upside down.
“The problem is that these women are forced to lie and put up with such impossible situations. The fact that they have to accept these conditions is the whole problem.” “The court ruling is a fatwa against women’s rights and emancipation” she said.
French feminist Elisabeth Badinter said she was worried for Muslim girls who would now be pressured furthermore “The Republic is supposed to protect these girls not pressure them” she said, warning of a legal precedent.

Their call was heard, and the affair took another turn on Monday, when French authorities stepped in. The case was far too embarrassing and preoccupying for the future.

French PM François Fillon said the state will appeal the annulment “to prevent the creation of a disturbing legal precedent for annulling marriages on grounds of virginity.”

However, the bride in this particular case is anything but enthusiastic over the attention she got. Her lawyer says “she accepts the annulment although it is not the best solution on a moral level”. “She just wants to break all ties with this marriage and move on with her life”.

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