The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Judge justifies violence against a wife on “cultural” grounds

Apr 2, 2007

The following article is from the March 30 issue of Lutte Ouvriére (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

A German judge in Frankfort has just been removed from a case where she took the side of a violent husband against his wife. The wife is a young woman of Moroccan origin living in Germany, who separated from her husband after he beat her. She went to court requesting an accelerated divorce. The judge turned her down, arguing that in Moroccan communities, men have the right to punish women, so there were no grounds for claiming excess severity in a German court. In other words, according to the judge women “expect it.” When the woman’s lawyer requested that the judge remove herself from the case on grounds of prejudice, the judge reaffirmed her position, and quoted the Koran, which permits a husband to punish a woman who injures his “honor.”

The case caused a scandal. The government’s Minister of Justice pulled the case from the judge, but said her behavior was an isolated case. However, German newspapers reminded their readers that in 2005 some brothers went on trial for killing their sister, who they accused of living in the Western manner. One brother was given the relatively moderate penalty of a little over nine years in prison, while the other brothers were freed for lack of evidence. The press pointed out that German courts more and more frequently hand out lenient sentences in “honor crimes,” although there have been 50 such deaths over the last ten years.

Judges who allow men to beat and kill their wives or women relatives on the grounds that their “culture” permits it exhibit their own reactionary prejudices, as well as racist scorn. And it’s not just one judge, unfortunately for all those men and especially women who try to lead their lives free of control by bigots of any religion.