A French court in Lille, France has annulled the marriage of a young Muslim after the husband discovered on his wedding night that his bribe was not a virgin. The French court agreed that the lack of virginity was sufficient for an annulment in a decision drawing considerable criticism in France.
The case involves an engineer who is reportedly in his 30s who married a student nurse in her 20s in 2006. During the wedding night, the husband came downstairs in the family’s home to complain that she was not a virgin and thus could not proudly display the blood-stained sheet that is traditionally exhibited as proof of the bride’s “purity”. He went to court the next day and received an annulment after the woman admitted that she lied about being a virgin. The obvious question is the annulment element. If the man wants a divorce over the desire to have a medieval display of a blood soaked sheet, so be it. However, to annul the marriage places the state in an uncomfortable position of enforcing such traditions. Yet, some lawyers quoted below see this as simply a matter of a misrepresentation of a critical element to the marriage. It raises some interesting questions of the use of the state to enforce religious views. Couples often may mislead each other about their wealth or health. (Both my wife and I thought we were marrying well). Yet, one could see other religious-based misrepresentations being grounds for divorce, such as a misrepresentations that someone is Jewish or Muslim in a devout family. At the end of the day, most people would feel more comfortable with the use of divorce rather than annulment in such cases to avoid the state-enforcement of religious beliefs or traditions. There is a call to change the law in France after this controversy.
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