When the decision was made public last May, it provoked a huge political debate, and many were upset that religious considerations had been taken into account in the verdict. The Justice Minister, Muslim herself, was nearly fired for defending the ruling. She said the verdict allowed the woman out of a bad marriage. The case involved a Muslim couple who said he discovered his bride lied for being a virgin and she ultimately agreed. This analyst says French law allows for annulments if one of the spouses misrepresents essential qualities about themselves, though essential qualities are never defined. The lawyer says in this case, virginity was defined as one such quality and the wife knew of this. He says the judge interpreted the contract correctly, but the French constitution guarantees individual rights based on the separation of state and religion and many are worried that division could erode with this ruling. The president of one feminist group says the decision could put thousands of Muslim women to surrender to archaic practices such as forced marriages.
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