I’ve been away on vacation for a while (yes, very nice thank you), and did not get a chance to keep an eye on this story, which I had briefly noted as I was fleeing town for the beach.
The annulment of a young Muslim couple’s marriage because the bride was not a virgin has caused anger in France, prompting President Sarkozy’s party to call for a change in the law.
The decision by a court in Lille was condemned by the Government, media, feminists and civil rights organisations after it was reported in a legal journal on Thursday. Patrick Devedjian, leader of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement, said it was unacceptable that the law could be used for religious reasons to repudiate a bride. It must be modified “to put an end to this extremely disturbing situation”, he said.
The case, which had previously gone unreported, involved an engineer in his 30s, named as Mr X, who married Ms Y, a student nurse in her 20s, in 2006. The wedding night party was still under way at the family’s home in Roubaix when the groom came down from the bedroom complaining that his bride was not a virgin. He could not display the blood-stained sheet that is traditionally exhibited as proof of the bride’s “purity”.
Mr X went to court the following morning and was granted a annulment on the grounds that his bride had deceived him on “one of the essential elements” of the marriage. In disgrace with both families, she acknowledged that she had led her groom to believe that she was a virgin when she had already had sexual intercourse. She did not oppose the annulment.
It appears, as you’ll see if you read the rest of the story as well as this one, that in France at least feminists and others are properly outraged and prepared to fight this “dangerous aberration”. I’m no expert on French marriage laws, but I never thought being in a position to “prove” one’s virginity by bleeding on the bedsheet was an “essential element” of marriage – or that it ought to be.
So my question to Canadian women’s rights groups and assorted feminists is: If you’re able and willing, more or less at the drop of a hat, to dig up decades-old cases of women being prosecuted in the United States for ending the lives of their unborn children as one of the main arguments against Bill C-484, can you say a little something against a small but tenacious portion of a religious culture that promotes and enforces such barbaric and retrograde views of women that failure to bleed on the wedding night is some kind of dishonour?