Page last updated at 17:45 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 18:45 UK

Court suspends French virgin case

French justice ministry, file pic
The man says his spouse lied about an "essential quality" of the relationship

A French court has overturned an order annulling the marriage of a French Muslim woman who is accused by her husband of lying about being a virgin.

The decision means that the marriage is once again valid until an appeal court rules in September.

The man's request for an annulment was granted last month after a court ruled he had been tricked into the marriage.

It sparked an emotional debate and angered feminists who said it amounted to a fatwa against women's liberty.

The ruling comes despite objections from the woman, whose lawyer said she simply wanted the marriage to be over and to get on with her life.


According to media reports, the husband, an engineer in his 30s, married the trainee nurse in 2006, having been assured by her that she had never previously had a boyfriend.

Under the French civil code, a marriage can be annulled if a spouse has lied about an "essential quality" of the relationship - in this case virginity.

The decision to overturn the annulment came after the French government asked the public prosecutor to appeal lest it set a precedent where people could legally insist on virginity as a requirement for marriage.

If the appeals court decides later this year that the annulment order should not stand the couple would have to file for divorce.

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