Annulment overturned but divorce in the offing for French Muslim couple

Rachida DatiA Muslim couple granted a marriage annulment by a French court have had it cancelled by an appeals court -- but they can get a divorce. The couple married in 2006 but the husband quickly sought an annulment after discovering that his bride had lied about her virginity. The lower court granted the annulment, saying the woman “acquiesced” in the suit. Now they are effectively married again and must seek a divorce if they want to separate.

The controversial case pitted France’s secularism against the traditions of its growing immigrant communities. Justice Minister Rachida Dati (pictured) who was born in France of North African parents, ordered a review of the verdict, and feminists claimed the decision was unjust because a woman would not be allowed to cancel her marriage if she thought her husband was not a virgin. Prosecutors argued that the annulment discriminated against women.

The lower court had based its decision on an article in the French Civil Code that states that a spouse can seek an annulment if the partner has misrepresented his or her “essential qualities”. But the appeals court ruled that virginity was not “a condition posed for their union” and that the lie was not enough to justify an annulment. Both partners opposed the appeal and the woman’s lawyer said she was distraught by the dragging out of the humiliating case, which began in 2006. ~ AP/Google, Nov 17



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