Should a woman be a virgin when she marries?

A French Muslim couple have opposed a government decision to contest a court ruling annulling their marriage because the bride lied about being a virgin.

The Herald Tribune published an article about Muslim women in Europe who resort to medical restoration of their virginity. It also linked this with the issue of the Muslim couple in France whose marriage was annulled by court because the bride had lied about her virginity.

Is virginity really important for marriage? Which is better for a Muslim woman: to tell the truth about not being virgin or to cheat her future husband in believing that she is virgin by resorting to a medical operation? Does the importance of virginity affect women’s rights, especially when it comes to sexual freedom?

Virginity is still a big issue in Muslim societies. In Morocco for families to preserve the virginity of their daughters is to prevent them from mixing with the opposite sex. But this is becoming impossible as girls and boys mix at an early age at schools and later in life, they mix at work. During and after adolescence there is the temptation to engage in sex one way or the other.

Although girls and women try to keep their virginity till marriage, many of them engage in sex in one way or another. Virginity is important not only for the woman but for her family. A woman losing her virginity is a dishonour to her family. For them, she can have sex with anyone. She can even be described as a whore. The catastrophe for her family is when she falls pregnant. This means, besides being a disgrace to them, she has little chances of getting married. There were cases of unmarried women who died attempting abortions as there are cases of women who abandoned and even killed their new born babies because of having them out of wedlock or from an unknown father.

A man wanting to marry a woman has the right to ask her to produce a medical certificate showing her virginity in case she has never been married. He also has the right to divorce her in case he discovers she isn’t virgin. One of the reasons is that the husband fears that she can have sex with another man days before their marriage and in case of pregnancy, he will father a child that isn’t his.

It is still an insult in Morocco to ask an unmarried woman if she is still virgin. Because this means describing her as being morally loose.

What is interesting to notice is the hypocrisy surrounding the attitude to women sexuality before marriage. A woman can secretly have sex before getting married. But the important is to keep her virginity. There are degrees concerning this.

1) The woman should keep chaste until marriage.

2) She should keep her virginity in case of having sex. This is the minimum damage, as she can keep intact for marriage.

3) She can lose her virginity, which a disgrace to her and her family.

Men should become realistic about the sexuality of women. In the past it was possible for women to get married as young as 14. Now with social changes, the majority of women get married later in their twenties. It is unimaginable that they can abstain from sex, especially if they have a male friend they trust and love.

Marriage after all means coexistence, mutual support and love. What matters is marital life after marriage contract is the personality of the couple. Degrading a woman because of not being virgin is like sentencing a person to long term imprisonment for an act that harms no one, but which is seen as harmful by the others who can’t at least be forgiving. In other words, women shouldn’t be seen just a mere bodies. They are persons with their own personalities.

Sex is sex. Some men accept to marry a divorced or a widowed woman but refuse to marry one who isn’t virgin. It’s better to marry who isn’t virgin but proves to be a good wife than to marry a virgin who later becomes unfaithful or keeping her love for another man she never had the chance to have sex with. Don’t they say, “Don’t commit adultery in your heart.”? Some women can be adulterous by keeping their love for another man and there is no physical evidence to find it out because it’s all in their hearts.

It is just the mentality that decides the attitude. In UK, Edward VIII ,only months into his reign, forced a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. He had to abdicate to marry her. In the 21st century, it has become normal for royalties to marry divorced women. Prince Charles married Camilla. In Spain, Crown Prince Felipe married Letizia, a divorced journalist. In the West, it took a long time to accept to see a woman for what she is.

1 Comment

  1. Margot the Marrakesh Mystic said,

    June 15, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    My understanding is that there are now some Moroccan men (like in France) who have a physical relationship with their fiance, but before marriage, HIS FAMILY insists upon a certificate of virginity. So they do the “repair” operation with his knowledge, and sometimes even sharing the cost. Then she can “pass inspection” in Morocco.

    I think honesty is better. Do you think Moroccan ideas will remain in the “Dark Ages” forever?

    Margot, in Marrakesh

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