"An Essential Quality"

Okay, so this is a couple of days late, and we've all been inundated with quite a bit of misogyny over the past several days (Weeks? Months? Years? Decades?), but this needs to be looked at:

When French Justice Minister Rachida Dati on Monday ordered an appeal to a court decision annulling a Muslim couple's marriage on the grounds that the wife had lied about being a virgin before the wedding, the acclaim was almost universal. The ruling's logic — essentially creating the legal concept of chastity fraud — was widely seen as an attack on women's rights that undermined decades of progress on sexual attitudes. The lower court's ruling seemed as well to have put Muslim religious concerns above France's strictly secular laws. But for the woman whose public repudiation sparked the controversy, Dati's decision means something else: the prolongation of a humiliating process to get her out of an unwanted marriage.
"Despite everything, my client was quite pleased with the [original] ruling because it allowed her reclaim her liberty," the woman's lawyer, Charles-Edouard Mauger, told the daily Le Figaro when asked why he hadn't appealed a verdict that France's secretary of state for urban affairs, Fadela Amara, reviled as "a fatwa against the emancipation of women." While Mauger was unable to speak to TIME on Tuesday, his colleagues following the case acknowledged their client was "traumatized to learn the Justice Ministry had ordered an appeal, because all she wants is this marriage over, this terrible attention and pressure off her, and to get on with her life as a free, single woman."
But, of course, that couldn't be allowed. She had to be humiliated and made a public spectacle of and dragged through the dirt first. What, no stones?
Until the state's challenge is heard, however, the woman — identified only as a 25-year-old nursing student from northern France — is condemned to play the role of symbol for the many forces that have seized her case as a major cause. The storm broke out last Thursday, when France's national media picked up on the unpublicized April 1 verdict annulling the couple's 10-month marriage on the husband's complaint that his wife's prenuptial assurances of virginity were false. The judge had reasoned that the wife's claimed virginity constituted "an essential quality decisive for the consent of her husband to wed."
So, it looks to me as if this might have just ended quietly if it weren't for national media attention. I wonder if that had anything to do with the judge's decision? Now, I don't claim to be knowledgeable about the Muslim faith, so I'm not going to be delving into that discussion. (The article does note that fears over the spread of Islam in France is probably fueling the intense scrutiny) But i will say that the judges "essential quality decisive for the consent of her husband to wed" quote reduces women are the equivalent of livestock.
That, protestors argued, reduced the woman — and by extension all women — to the status of goods whose acquisition could be renounced by husbands claiming to have discovered hidden impurities or defects in them.
Making it, once again, all about the satisfaction of the men involved. Thank Maude they at least recognized that legal decisions like this affect all women.

(Tip of the energy dome to Shaker Reb)

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