Furor in France, Frustration in Jordan, and Women

Two interesting links here. One is regarding the furor in France:

PARIS (AP) - The bride said she was a virgin. When her new husband discovered that was a lie, he went to court to annul the marriage—and a French judge agreed.

The ruling ending the Muslim couple's union has stunned France and raised concerns the country's much-cherished secular values are losing ground to religious traditions from its fast-growing immigrant communities.

The decision also exposed the silent shame borne by some Muslim women who transgress long-held religious dictates demanding proof of virginity on the wedding night.

In its ruling, the court concluded the woman had misrepresented herself as a virgin and that, in this particular marriage, virginity was a prerequisite.

But in treating the case as a breach of contract, the ruling was decried by critics who said it undermined decades of progress in women's rights. Marriage, they said, was reduced to the status of a commercial transaction in which women could be discarded by husbands claiming to have discovered hidden defects in them. [...]

And some great remarks on the awkwardness of interacting with women while living in the ME (in his case Jordan):

...It is this segregation of the sexes that creates vexing problems for me sometimes. For instance, even after two years in our apartment building, I still would not recognize two out of the three Jordanian women who live here if I ran into them on the street. I've had conversations with them, but only through the closed doors of their apartments when I've come to ask a question of their husbands. Hence, I have no idea what they look like.

A further issue occurs when I see women on our street that I have seen outside before and know live nearby. My instinct is to be friendly, to say a simple hello, perhaps engage in small talk, and move on. This is what I would do at home, and perhaps after a time we would move on from small talk to something more meaningful. Here, though, such friendliness would be considered somewhat forward, and who knows who might be looking down on me from their upstairs window? As a result, if I happen to cross paths with a women, usually I just put my head down and keep walking. This even troubles me, though, when I come across women I do know. Recently I happened to be at the falafal shop nearby when a women from church came in. I talk to her at church, and she has been to our home more than once. However, because of the stigma that surrounds gender mixing here, I was unsure of how to acknowledge her presence. I wanted to greet her, but I didn't want to appear too friendly in front of all the guys at the falafal shop. So, we did speak for a minute, but it was an awkward conversation during which I wondered the whole time what everyone else was thinking.[...]


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