French state prosecutors argued on Monday that a court decision to annul a Muslim couple’s marriage because the woman lied about her virginity is discriminatory against women and should be overturned. A court in Douai annulled the 2006 marriage in April 2008 because the husband discovered on their wedding night that the wife had lied about her virginity. The lower court based its decision on an article of the French Civil Code that states that a spouse can seek an annulment if the partner has misrepresented his or her “essential qualities.” The decision made no reference to Islam.
Eric Vaillant, a spokesperson for the Douai appeals court has responded that making a woman’s virginity a condition of marriage “would be discriminatory because it would harm the principles of equality between men and women.” State prosecutors said they were not against allowing the split if it were possible to replace the “discriminatory motive” of loss of virginity with a more general one, such as mistaken identity. A verdict in the appeals case is expected on 17 November 2008.
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