Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Don't lie about virginity in France

I wonder if the French judicial system made an April Fool's joke in its April 1 decision to grant a Muslim man an annulment based on the fact that his bride had lied to him about her virginity.
...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."
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.

Some are upset with the decision because they believe that it is a reversal of women's rights, and that allowing a man to annul a marriage based on his bride's lack of chastity is akin trying to cancel a commercial transaction based on the exposure of hidden defects in the product.
A lawyer for the groom said that the actual lack of virginity was not the issue, it was the lie that was at issue.

Muslim women (in Western countries) are often caught between two worlds, one where they are sexually emancipated and another where they are expected to uphold traditional values. I appreciate the market for fake certificates of virginity, hymen repair surgery, and vials of blood spilt on the wedding night sheets, as a means of appeasing those expectations.

However, I think I have to go with the French court on this decision. The bride's virginity was an essential quality that she lied to the groom about. Marriage IS a contract. If you misrepresent yourself in a contract, the contract is void.

I do kind of have to wonder how the groom figured out that the bride was lying. Was it merely because he didn't have to breach a hymen or that there was no blood afterwards? Was it because she seemed to enjoy herself a little bit? And, what makes HIM such an expert on what to expect in bed from a virgin, unless (of course) he'd bedded a virgin or two himself before the wedding. You just have to love a double standard, right?

In any case, instead of lying maybe the bride should have gotten the surgery before the wedding. It certainly would have saved everyone, including the French judicial system, a great deal of grief.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the legal rendering - of course - as it involved a contractual issue, oral (hahaha) and otherwise.

I also applaud your observation about practicing Moslem Westerners and their straddling two cultural norms.

I finally approve of the couple's relying on the legal system for resolution, rather than the oft-reported "honor (sic) killings" resolution.

Perhaps the international notoriety of the case will cause many legal scholars to revisit the inherent biases between the sexes in marriage contracts.

~ Gemin Blackmoor