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.We need to make room in our increasingly diverse Western world for the religious sensibilities and customs of others. But there is a limit. Centuries of hard-fought gains in civil rights by women should not be given back in the name of religious tolerance.
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 cultural traditions from its fast-growing immigrant communities.
The decision also exposed the silent shame borne by some Muslim women who transgress long-held customs 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.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Western Values at Stake
A French court decision reduces women to the status of chattel: