Is adultery a crime? That seems to be the question, and a very silly one at that. In my opinion, adultery is most definitely a crime, and it should be punished as a crime too. But for this to become a universal opinion, people must first understand what adultery is. A lot of people will not believe that it should be condemned as a crime once they know the truth about adultery. In fact, it used to be punishable in India, but it is now been decriminalised here.
In spite of this, I am absolutely firm in my belief that adultery is a crime, and should be punishable by law. Let us go into the word ‘adultery’ to find out whether it should be considered a crime or not.
What does the word adultery mean?
Adultery is usually defined in very short and simple as an occurrence of ‘extramarital sex’. It is found to be very objectionable on several grounds. It generally refers to any person cheating on their spouse, whether it occurs as a single lone incident, or whether it occurs at multiple times, with more than one extramarital affair.
There are many synonyms to it, such as ‘infidelity’, ‘unfaithfulness’, or simply just ‘disloyalty’. None of these words still explain how grievous the sin of adultery is.
The world “adultery” comes from the old French word “avoutrie” and then from the Latin word “adulterium” which basically translates to adulterer.
The occurrence of adultery is found objectionable in several religions, even if we were to lay aside the social and humanitarian objections to it. Most cultures have always viewed adultery as a very serious crime that deserves to be punished with the most frightful torture methods possible.
Different religions have different concepts of adultery to which they object. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and several more religions used to punish it with various terrible methods. It was generally the woman who was punished, and occasionally the man.
The punishment was sometimes stoning (a system where the person was thrown on to the ground and the villagers threw gigantic stones on to him or her until he or she was killed), mutilation (cutting off a certain body part, especially the genitals… In some religions, you must cut off the part of the body that causes you to commit adultery, be it your hand or your eye) or maybe even capital punishment.
Adultery is not committed in the case of polygamy. The relations in polygamy, although they might seem wrong, are still legitimised and legalised. Hence, even sexual relations between the various wives and the husbands are not grounds for adultery.
It is only a case of adultery when a married man has sexual relations with a woman other than his wife, or when a married woman has sexual relations with a man other than her husband.
Unfortunately for the women, in most cases and religions, adultery is defined slightly differently so as to protect the men and torture the women. It is limited to any man having sexual intercourse with a married woman, and in any such case the woman is the one caught and punished.
However, the case was practically the opposite in India. If any man slept with a married woman in India, without the consent of her husband, and the case was not one of rape, then the man could be punished as a seducer and guilty of adultery whereas there would be no charges to press against the woman.
This law was only recently overturned in 2018 when it was objected to as being unfair to men and treating women like objects. It is now only a part of the grounds for divorce, not punishable as a criminal offence.
Why should adultery be considered a crime?
I strongly believe that adultery should be considered a crime. I do not support the pre-existing laws of India, and the hundred and fifty year old colonial law stating that men could be punished as seducers but not women, should definitely have been removed. But I do not think it should have been completely overturned, it should rather have been modified.
The law should have been made such that both the man and the woman should have been punished, if either one of them was married and sleeping with a person other than their spouse. The law should become a gender neutral one instead of having been erased completely. Here is why this is such a strong belief for me.
In India, robbery is a very serious crime. It is basically a crime everywhere. It is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value which is not one’s own. Well, consider what adultery is then. By marriage, be it in a court of law or be it in the religious ceremonies anywhere, the man and the woman have been joined in sacredness and divinity.
The man has now become the woman’s husband, and that is a precious bond, while the woman has become the man’s wife, which is equally divine. They have certain rights and duties to each other which should be fulfilled no matter what. By breaking these bonds, there is a robbery being committed, for lack of a better word.
There is a thieving of affections, of divinity, of trust, of one’s spouse. If the victimised spouse decides to press charges against the unfaithful spouse and the other person involved, they should most definitely be supported and allowed.
There are a lot of people who rejoiced in the overturning of the law. Some of those people included Barkha Dutt, Kavita Krishnan among many others. However, there were some other people who agreed with the message of this article. These included Deepika Bhardwaj, who is actually a male activist.
Many twitter users came online to show their lack of support of the action. By claiming that is was no longer a criminal offence, the Court had simply damaged the holy institution of marriage. In my opinion, if there is anyone who really believes it is not to be punishable as a crime, then the person should not really get married.
If you do decide to give yourself into the divine union of marriage, then you should respect yourself and your spouse enough not to cheat on them and become an infidel. For that matter, it is completely wrong even while being in a relationship before marriage to cheat. It is an absolutely wrong thing to do.
And seeing as it would not really matter to an unfaithful person, whether the emotions of their spouse are hurt, it should be punishable by some other way. Seeing as the right to punish anyone is only by law, it is hence necessary that adultery is considered a crime, punishable by law.
There are different laws all over the world, while some places consider adultery a criminal offence while others do not. This should be rectified by all places in the world, sooner rather than later.
The decriminalising of adultery has also led to the spread of it all over the world. It has become a popular theme of literature, plays, poems, and scriptures, all round everywhere. It is being glorified, while it is actually the last thing that should be popularised. It should have disgusted people. It is not up to us to punish people for their crimes or sins, but we have a legal system for that purpose itself, and it should be made a punishable crime.