14 Y.B. Islamic & Middle E. L. 27 (2008-2009)
The Wife's Duty of Obedience to Her Husband under Tunisian Law

handle is hein.journals/yislamie14 and id is 41 raw text is: 27

The Wife's Duty of Obedience to her Husband under
Tunisian Law
Dr. lInen Gallala*
In Germany a judge in Frankfurt considered that the domestic violence which
a Moroccan husband inflicted on his wife, who also came from a Moroccan
immigrant family was normal and usual in Islamic culture.' As a result, the judge
held that this violence could not be considered as an unreasonable hardship
(Ger. Unzumutbare Hdrte) provided for in § 1565 BGB.2 The judge founded her
statement on a verse of the Qur'an: As to those women on whose part ye fear
disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their
beds, (And last) beat them (lightly);.. . (4:34).'
It is true that according to classical Islamic law and many positive laws of
Islamic countries there is a hierarchal relationship between husbands and wives.
The wives have to obey their husbands and the husbands are, in some cases and
under certain conditions, allowed to chastise their wives. Nevertheless, one can
criticise the German judge for her simplistic and erroneous perception of the
normative culture in Islamic countries.
In fact, the intensification of immigration movements to the West has con-
fronted the jurists, practitioners and academics with huge challenges. In the
framework of international private law the European judge applies foreign laws.
This task can be very difficult and delicate, especially when the foreign law is
based on concepts and principles that differ from the Western ones. This is the
*Research Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative and International Private
The author is deeply indebted to Dr. Hans-Erich Arndt for his invaluable suggestions.
She had also the privilege to rely on the expertise of Dr. Nadjma Yassari.
1 Krfiger, H., Ailgemeine Ehewirkungen im Recht der orientalischen Staaten-Zugleich elne
Anmerkung zu Aufregungen uiber eine Richterin-, Zeitschrift fulr das gesamte Familienrecht
7/2007, p. 649 esq.
2 § 1565 (2): if the spouses have been separated for less than a year, the marriage may only
be dissolved if the continuation of the marriage would result in unreasonable hardship to
the petitioner owing to causes attributable to the other spouse.
3 Qur'an. All the cited verses are translated by Yusuf Ali: http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/
crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/004.qmt.html, last accessed 28 April 2009.

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