Adultery

Adultery

Overview
Adultery is sexual infidelity
Infidelity
In many intimate relationships in many cultures there is usually an express or implied expectation of exclusivity, especially in sexual matters. Infidelity most commonly refers to a breach of the expectation of sexual exclusivity.Infidelity can occur in relation to physical intimacy and/or...

 to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex
Extramarital sex
Extramarital sex occurs when a married person engages in sexual activity with someone other than his or her marriage partner.Where extramarital sexual relations breach a sexual norm it may also be referred to as adultery, fornication, philandery, or infidelity...

. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.

Adultery is illegal in some jurisdictions. The interaction between laws on adultery with those on rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 has and does pose particular problems in societies that are especially sensitive to sexual relations by a married woman and men.
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Encyclopedia
Adultery is sexual infidelity
Infidelity
In many intimate relationships in many cultures there is usually an express or implied expectation of exclusivity, especially in sexual matters. Infidelity most commonly refers to a breach of the expectation of sexual exclusivity.Infidelity can occur in relation to physical intimacy and/or...

 to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex
Extramarital sex
Extramarital sex occurs when a married person engages in sexual activity with someone other than his or her marriage partner.Where extramarital sexual relations breach a sexual norm it may also be referred to as adultery, fornication, philandery, or infidelity...

. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.

Adultery is illegal in some jurisdictions. The interaction between laws on adultery with those on rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 has and does pose particular problems in societies that are especially sensitive to sexual relations by a married woman and men. The difference between the offenses is that adultery is voluntary, while rape is not.

The term adultery has an Abrahamic
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

 origin, though the concept predates Judaism and is found in many other societies. The definition and consequences vary between religions, cultures, and legal jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

s, but the concept is similar in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Hinduism also has a similar concept.

Historically, adultery has been considered to be a serious offense by many cultures. Even in jurisdictions where adultery is not itself a criminal offense, it may still have legal consequences, particularly in divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

 cases. For example, where there is fault-based family law
Family law
Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:*the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;...

, it almost always constitutes grounds for divorce, it may be a factor to consider in a property settlement, it may affect the status
Social status
In sociology or anthropology, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society . It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group, for example son or daughter, playmate, pupil, etc....

 of children, the custody
Child custody
Child custody and guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child.Following ratification of the United...

 of children, etc. Moreover, adultery can result in social ostracism in some parts of the world.

Three recent studies in the United States, using nationally representative samples, have found that about 10–15% of women and 20–25% of men admitted to having engaged in extramarital sex
Extramarital sex
Extramarital sex occurs when a married person engages in sexual activity with someone other than his or her marriage partner.Where extramarital sexual relations breach a sexual norm it may also be referred to as adultery, fornication, philandery, or infidelity...

.

The application of the term to the act appears to arise from the idea that "criminal intercourse with a married woman ... tended to adulterate the issue [children] of an innocent husband ... and to expose him to support and provide for another man's [children]". Thus, the "purity" of the children of a marriage is corrupted, and the inheritance is altered. The law often uses the word "adulterate[d]" to describe contamination of food and the like.

Definitions


In the traditional English common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

, adultery was a felony
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

. Although the legal definition of "adultery" differs in nearly every legal system, the common theme is sexual relations
Human sexual behavior
Human sexual activities or human sexual practices or human sexual behavior refers to the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts from time to time, and for a wide variety of reasons...

 outside of marriage, in one form or another.

For example, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 defines an adulterer as a person who "engages in sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse."
North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 defines adultery as occurring when any man and woman "lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed, and cohabit together."
Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 law provides: "when a married woman has sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband, whether married or not, both are guilty of adultery." As recently as 2001, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 prosecuted an attorney, John R. Bushey of Luray
Luray, Virginia
Luray is a town in Page County, Virginia, United States, in the Shenandoah Valley of the northern part of the state. It is also the county seat...

, for adultery, a case that ended in a guilty plea and a $125 fine. Adultery is against the governing law of the U.S. military
Uniform Code of Military Justice
The Uniform Code of Military Justice , is the foundation of military law in the United States. It is was established by the United States Congress in accordance with the authority given by the United States Constitution in Article I, Section 8, which provides that "The Congress shall have Power . ....

.

In common-law countries, adultery was also known as "criminal conversation
Criminal conversation
Criminal conversation, commonly known as crim. con., is a tort arising from adultery.-History of criminal conversation:It was based upon compensation for the husband's loss of property rights in his wife, the wife being regarded as his chattel. Historically a wife could not sue her husband for...

". This became the name of the civil tort
Tort
A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general...

 arising from adultery, being based upon compensation for the other spouse's injury. Criminal conversation was usually referred to by lawyers as "crim. con.", and was abolished in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1857, and the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 in 1976. Another tort, alienation of affection, arises when one spouse deserts the other for a third person. This act was also known as desertion, which was often a crime as well. A small number of jurisdictions still allow suits for criminal conversation and/or alienation of affection. Because of its abuse, at least one jurisdiction (Nevada) has abolished the tort of alienation of affection and has made it a misdemeanor crime to file such a lawsuit.

A marriage in which both spouses agree to accept sexual relations by either partner with another person is a form of non-monogamy, and the spouses would not treat the sexual relations as adultery, although it could still be considered a crime in some legal jurisdictions.

In Canada, though the written definition in the Divorce Act
Divorce Act
Canada's Divorce Act is the federal Act that governs divorce in that country. The Constitution of Canada has explicitly made marriage and divorce the realm of the federal government rather than of the provinces....

 refers to extramarital relations with someone of the opposite sex, a British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 judge used the Civil Marriage Act
Civil Marriage Act
The Civil Marriage Act was legislation legalizing same-sex marriage across Canada...

 in a 2005 case to grant a woman a divorce from her husband who had cheated on her with another man, which the judge felt was equal reasoning to dissolve the union.

Prevalence


Durex's
Durex
Durex is the trademarked name for a range of condoms that used to be made by British company SSL International. This company was sold to Reckitt Benckiser in July 2010....

 Global Sex Survey has found that worldwide 22% of people surveyed have had extramarital sex.

A 2005 scientific review of international published studies of paternal discrepancy found a range in incidence from 0.8% to 30% (median 3.7%), suggesting that the widely quoted figure of 10% of non-paternal events is an overestimate.

United States


Alfred Kinsey
Alfred Kinsey
Alfred Charles Kinsey was an American biologist and professor of entomology and zoology, who in 1947 founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, now known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, as well as producing the Kinsey Reports and the Kinsey...

 found in his studies that 50% of males and 26% of females had extramarital sex at least once during their lifetime. Depending on studies, it was estimated that 26–50% of men and 21–38% women, or 22.7% of men and 11.6% of women had extramarital sex. Other authors say that between 20% and 25% of Americans had sex with someone other than their spouse.

Cultural and religious traditions



Greco-Roman world


A similar rule applied in the old Roman Law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

. That is, in the Greco-Roman world there were stringent laws against adultery, but these applied to sexual intercourse with a married woman. In the early Roman Law the jus tori belonged to the husband. It was therefore not a crime against the wife for a husband to have sex with a slave or an unmarried woman.

It is well known that the Roman husband often took advantage of his legal immunity. Thus we are told by the historian Spartianus that Verus
Verus
Verus may refer to:* Verus , Roman centurion and senator* Verus , Roman gladiator-See also:* Lucius Verus , Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius* Gnaeus Julius Verus , Roman general and senator...

, the imperial colleague of Marcus Aurelius, did not hesitate to declare to his reproaching wife: "Uxor enim dignitatis nomen est, non voluptatis." (Wife' connotes rank, not sexual pleasure, or more literally "Wife is the name of dignity, not bliss") (Verus, V).

Later in Roman history, as William E.H. Lecky has shown, the idea that the husband owed a fidelity similar to that demanded of the wife must have gained ground, at least in theory. Lecky gathers from the legal maxim
Legal maxim
A legal maxim is an established principle or proposition. The Latin term, apparently a variant on maxima, is not to be found in Roman law with any meaning exactly analogous to that of a legal maxim in the Medieval or modern sense of the word, but the treatises of many of the Roman jurists on...

 of Ulpian
Ulpian
Gnaeus Domitius Annius Ulpianus , anglicized as Ulpian, was a Roman jurist of Tyrian ancestry.-Biography:The exact time and place of his birth are unknown, but the period of his literary activity was between AD 211 and 222...

: "It seems most unfair for a man to require from a wife the chastity he does not himself practice".

The lending of wives practiced among some people was, as Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 tells us, encouraged also by Lycurgus, though from a motive other than that which actuated the practice (Plutarch, Lycurgus, XXIX). The recognized license of the Greek husband may be seen in the following passage of the Oration against Neaera, the author of which is uncertain, though it has been attributed to Demosthenes
Demosthenes
Demosthenes was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by...

:
We keep mistresses for our pleasures, concubines for constant attendance, and wives to bear us legitimate children and to be our faithful housekeepers. Yet, because of the wrong done to the husband only, the Athenian lawgiver Solon allowed any man to kill an adulterer whom he had taken in the act. (Plutarch, Solon)


The Roman Lex Julian, Lex Iulia de Adulteriis Coercendis (17 BC) , punished adultery with banishment The two guilty parties were sent to different islands ("dummodo in diversas insulas relegentur"), and part of their property was confiscated. Fathers were permitted to kill daughters and their partners in adultery. Husbands could kill the partners under certain circumstances and were required to divorce adulterous wives.

Biblical sources


The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 (the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 or Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

) prohibits adultery in the seventh of the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 . Adultery in traditional Judaism applies equally to both parties, but it only applied in situations where the woman is married (Lev. 20:10). The punishment in the Hebrew bible for adultery is stoning to death.

Christianity



Adultery is considered by many Christians to be immoral and a sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

, based primarily on passages like . Although does say that "and that is what some of you were. But you were washed", it still acknowledges adultery to be immoral and a sin. The sixth commandment
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 (seventh in some traditions) ("Thou shalt not commit adultery") is also a basis, but see also Biblical law in Christianity
Biblical law in Christianity
Christian views of the Old Covenant have been central to Christian theology and practice since the circumcision controversy in Early Christianity. There are differing views about the applicability of the Old Covenant among Christian denominations...

.

Jesus taught that indulgence in adulterous thoughts could be just as harmful to the soul as actual adultery, and it is clear that both carry the same weight of guilt:
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


and he also says
But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.


Some churches have interpreted adultery to include all sexual relationships outside of marriage, regardless of the marital status of the participants.

Rabbinic Judaism


Adultery in traditional Judaism applies equally to both parties, but depends on the marital status of the woman (Lev. 20:10). Though the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 prescribes the death penalty for adultery, the legal procedural requirements were very exacting and required the testimony of two witnesses of good character for conviction. The defendant also must have been warned immediately before performing the act.

At the civil level, however, Jewish law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 (halakha) forbids a man to continue living with an adulterous wife, and he is obliged to divorce her. Also, an adulteress is not permitted to marry the adulterer, but, to avoid any doubt as to her status as being free to marry another or that of her children, many authorities say he must give her a divorce as if they were married.

Also, Jewish law recognizes the "law of the land" in these matters, so that if the law of the land has greater restrictions, then they will also apply.

According to Judaism, the Seven laws of Noah apply to all of humankind; these laws prohibit adultery with another man's wife.

Islam


Zina (زنا) is an Arabic term for illegal intercourse; premarital or extramarital. Various conditions and punishments have been attributed to adultery.

Under Muslim law
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

, adultery in general
Extramarital sex
Extramarital sex occurs when a married person engages in sexual activity with someone other than his or her marriage partner.Where extramarital sexual relations breach a sexual norm it may also be referred to as adultery, fornication, philandery, or infidelity...

 is sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 by a person (whether man or woman) with someone to whom they are not married. Adultery is a violation of the marital contract and one of the major sins condemned by God in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

:

Qur'anic verses prohibiting adultery include:
"Do not go near to adultery. Surely it is a shameful deed and evil, opening roads (to other evils)."

"Say, 'Verily, my Lord has prohibited the shameful deeds, be it open or secret, sins and trespasses against the truth and reason."'

"Women impure are for men impure, and men impure are for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity."


Punishments are reserved to the legal authorities and false accusations are to be punished severely. It has been said that these legal procedural requirements were instituted to protect women from slander and false accusations i.e. Four witnesses are required of good character for conviction.

Islamic Shariah Courts in Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 evoked worldwide condemnation and protest and debate recently in sentencing some Muslim women and men to death by stoning (rajm) upon conviction for zina. Perhaps only Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have this law on their books. However, stoning as punishment for sexual sin is not prescribed in the Qur'an, but is prescribed in the hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

—oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad. The only punishment with regards to illegal intercourse mentioned in the Quran is for the fornicator and not the adulterer and it is one hundred lashes and restriction of future marriage to another fornicator or the partner in the act.

Other historical practices


In Native American cultures, severe penalties could be imposed on an adulterous wife by her husband. In many instances she was made to endure a bodily mutilation which would, in the mind of the aggrieved husband, prevent her from ever being a temptation to other men again.

The Laws of Manu of ancient India, for example, said: "though destitute of virtue or seeking pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities, yet a husband must be constantly worshiped as a god by a faithful wife"; on the other, hand, "if a wife, proud of the greatness of her relatives or [her own] excellence, violates the duty which she owes to her lord, the king shall cause her to be devoured by dogs in a place frequented by many."

In England and its successor states, it has been high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

 to engage in adultery with the King's wife, his eldest son's wife and his eldest unmarried daughter. The jurist Sir William Blackstone writes that "the plain intention of this law is to guard the Blood Royal from any suspicion of bastardy, whereby the succession to the Crown might be rendered dubious." Adultery was a serious issue when it came to succession to the crown. Philip IV of France
Philip IV of France
Philip the Fair was, as Philip IV, King of France from 1285 until his death. He was the husband of Joan I of Navarre, by virtue of which he was, as Philip I, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1284 to 1305.-Youth:A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born at the Palace of...

 had all three of his daughters-in-law imprisoned, two (Margaret of Burgundy and Blanche of Burgundy
Blanche of Burgundy
Blanche of Burgundy was queen of France and Navarre for a few months in 1322 due to her marriage to the future king Charles IV.-Biography:She was the daughter of Otto IV, Count of Burgundy and Mahaut, Countess of Artois...

) on the grounds of adultery and the third (Joan of Burgundy) for being aware of their adulterous behaviour. The two brothers accused of being lovers of the king's daughters-in-law were executed immediately after being arrested. The wife of Philip IV's eldest son bore a daughter, the future Joan II of Navarre
Joan II of Navarre
Joan II was Queen of Navarre from 1328 until her death. She was the only daughter of Margaret of Burgundy, first wife of King Louis X of France...

, whose paternity and succession rights were disputed all her life.

Asia


In some East Asian countries
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 or regions, including North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 and Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, adultery continues to be a crime. In the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, adultery (defined as consensual sexual intercourse between a married woman and a man who is not her husband) and a related act of concubinage (a man cohabiting with a woman who is not his wife), are considered crimes under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines
Revised Penal Code of the Philippines
The Revised Penal Code contains the general penal laws of the Philippines. First enacted in 1930, it remains in effect today, despite several amendments thereto. It does not comprise a comprehensive compendium of all Philippine penal laws. The Revised Penal Code itself was enacted as Act No...

. Adultery is not a crime in China mainland, but constitutes grounds for divorce.

In Pakistan, adultery is a crime under the Hudood Ordinance
Hudood Ordinance
The Hudood Ordinance was a law in Pakistan that was enacted in 1979 as part of then-military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization and replaced or revised in 2006 by the Women's Protection Bill....

. The Ordinance sets a maximum penalty of death
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

, although only imprisonment
Imprisonment
Imprisonment is a legal term.The book Termes de la Ley contains the following definition:This passage was approved by Atkin and Duke LJJ in Meering v Grahame White Aviation Co....

 and corporal punishment
Corporal punishment
Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

 have ever actually been imposed. The Ordinance has been particularly controversial because it requires a woman making an accusation of rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 to provide extremely strong evidence to avoid being charged with adultery herself. A conviction for rape is only possible with evidence from no less than four witnesses. In recent years high-profile rape cases in Pakistan have given the Ordinance more exposure than similar laws in other countries. Similar laws exist in some other Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

.

In Indian law, adultery is defined as sex between a man and a woman without the consent of the woman's husband. The man is prosecutable and can be sentenced for up to five years (even if he himself was unmarried) whereas the married woman cannot be jailed. Men have called the law gender discrimination in that women cannot be prosecuted for adultery and the National Commission of Women has criticized the British era law of being anti-feminist as it treats women as the property of their husbands and has consequentially recommended deletion of the law or reducing it to a civil offense. The Government is yet to act. Extramarital sex without the consent of one's partner can be a valid grounds for monetary penalty on government employees, as ruled by the Central Administrative Tribunal.

In Southwest Asia, adultery has attracted severe sanctions
Sanctions (law)
Sanctions are penalties or other means of enforcement used to provide incentives for obedience with the law, or with rules and regulations. Criminal sanctions can take the form of serious punishment, such as corporal or capital punishment, incarceration, or severe fines...

, including death penalty. In some places, such as Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, the method of punishment for adultery is stoning
Stoning
Stoning, or lapidation, is a form of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until the person dies. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject, yet everyone involved plainly bears some degree of moral culpability. This is in contrast to the...

 to death. Proving adultery under Muslim law can be a very difficult task as it requires the accuser to produce four eye witnesses to the act of sexual intercourse, each of whom should have a good reputation for truthfulness and honesty. The criminal standards do not apply in the application of social and family consequences of adultery, where the standards of proof are not as exacting.

Europe


Most European countries have decriminalized adultery. Adultery is not a crime in most countries of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, including Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Portugal, Spain, Greece or Sweden. In some Southern-European countries, adultery can lead to the so called vendetta
Feud
A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight between parties—often groups of people, especially families or clans. Feuds begin because one party perceives itself to have been attacked, insulted or wronged by another...

, which is illegal (with penalties up to life sentence), but carries reduced sentences.

United States


In the United States, laws vary from state to state. In those states where adultery is still on the statute book (although rarely prosecuted), penalties vary from life sentence (Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

), to a fine of $10 (Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

), to a Class B misdemeanor (New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

), to a Class I felony (Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

). In the U.S. Military, adultery is a potential court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

 offense. The enforceability of adultery laws in the United States is unclear following Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 decisions since 1965 relating to privacy and sexual intimacy of consenting adults. However, occasional prosecutions do occur.

Other consequences


For various reasons, most couples who marry do so with the expectation of fidelity. Adultery is often seen as a breach of trust and of the commitment that had been made during the act of marriage . Adultery can be emotionally traumatic for both spouses, and often results in divorce.

Adultery may lead to ostracization from certain religious or social groups.

Adultery can also lead to feelings of guilt and jealousy in the person with whom the affair is being committed. In some cases, this "third person" may encourage divorce (either openly or subtly). If the cheating spouse has hinted at divorce in order to continue the affair, the third person may feel deceived if that does not happen. They may simply withdraw with ongoing feelings of guilt, carry on an obsession with their lover, may choose to reveal the affair, or in rare cases commit violence or other crimes.

Since adultery can lead to divorce, it may have long-term consequences for children in the family. Children of divorcees are twice as likely to have problems as adults with mental illness, substance abuse, and failed relationships.

If adultery leads to divorce, it also carries higher financial burdens. For example, living expenses and taxes are generally cheaper for married couples than for divorced couples. Legal fees can add up into the tens of thousands of dollars. Divorced spouses may not qualify for benefits such as health insurance, which must then be paid out-of-pocket.

Like any sexual contact, adultery may result in sexually-transmitted diseases. Since most married couples do not routinely use barrier contraceptives, the cheating spouse is very likely to transmit any infection to their unwitting spouse. This is a form of physical victimization that extends beyond the emotional and social consequences often associated with infidelity.

Violence


Historically, female adultery often resulted in extreme violence, including murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 (of the woman, her lover, or both, committed by her husband). Today domestic violence
Domestic violence
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence , is broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation...

 is outlawed in the Western World
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, but this is not the case in many developing countries.

Honor killings



Honor killings are often connected to accusations of adultery. Honor killings continue to be legal in parts of the world.

According to the report of the Special Rapporteur submitted to the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
United Nations Commission on Human Rights
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights was a functional commission within the overall framework of the United Nations from 1946 until it was replaced by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2006...

 (2002) concerning cultural practices in the family that reflect violence against women (E/CN.4/2002/83):
The Special Rapporteur indicated that there had been contradictory decisions with regard to the honour defense in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, and that legislative provisions allowing for partial or complete defense in that context could be found in the penal codes of Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

.


Part of article 340 of the Penal Code of Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 states that "he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty."

In Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Article 548 states that "He who catches his wife or one of his ascendants, descendants or sister committing adultery (flagrante delicto) or illegitimate sexual acts with another and he killed or injured one or both of them benefits from an exemption of penalty."

According to the UN in 2002:
"The report of the Special Rapporteur
Special Rapporteur
Special Rapporteur is a title given to individuals working on behalf of the United Nations within the scope of "Special Procedures" mechanisms who bear a specific mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council....

 ... concerning cultural practices in the family that are violent towards women (E/CN.4/2002/83), indicated that honour killings had been reported in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, the Syrian Arab Republic
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

, and other Mediterranean and Persian Gulf countries, and that they had also taken place in western countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, within migrant communities."

Stoning



Stoning
Stoning
Stoning, or lapidation, is a form of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until the person dies. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject, yet everyone involved plainly bears some degree of moral culpability. This is in contrast to the...

, or lapidation, refers to a form of capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 whereby an organized group throws stones at an individual until the person dies, or (in ancient Judaism) the condemned person is pushed from a platform set high enough above a stone floor that the fall would probably result in instantaneous death.

Stoning continues to be practiced today, in parts of the world. Recently, several men and women have been sentenced to death by stoning after being accused of adultery in Iran and Somalia.

See also


  • Adultery in literature
    Adultery in literature
    The theme of adultery has been used in a wide range of literature through the ages, and has served as a theme for some of the greatest works ever written, such as Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary. As a theme it brings intense emotions into the foreground, and has consequences for all concerned...

  • Affair
    Affair
    Affair may refer to professional, personal, or public business matters or to a particular business or private activity of a temporary duration, as in family affair, a private affair, or a romantic affair.-Political affair:...

  • Crime of passion
    Crime of passion
    A crime of passion, or crime passionnel, in popular usage, refers to a crime in which the perpetrator commits a crime, especially assault or murder, against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage or heartbreak rather than as a premeditated crime...

  • Cuckold
    Cuckold
    Cuckold is a historically derogatory term for a man who has an unfaithful wife. The word, which has been in recorded use since the 13th century, derives from the cuckoo bird, some varieties of which lay their eggs in other birds' nests...

  • Emotional affair
    Emotional affair
    An "emotional affair" is an affair, which excludes physical intimacy but includes emotional intimacy and can begin as innocently as a friendship. It may also be called an affair of the heart. Where one partner is in a committed monogamous relationship, an emotional affair is a type of chaste...

  • Family therapy
    Family therapy
    Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of...

     (Relationship counseling
    Relationship counseling
    Relationship counseling is the process of counseling the parties of a relationship in an effort to recognize and to better manage or reconcile troublesome differences and repeating patterns of distress...

    )
  • Fornication
    Fornication
    Fornication typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. For many people, the term carries a moral or religious association, but the significance of sexual acts to which the term is applied varies between religions, societies and cultures. The...

  • Honor killing
    Honor killing
    An honor killing or honour killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community...

  • Incest
    Incest
    Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

  • Incidence of monogamy
  • Jesus and the woman taken in adultery
  • Mistress
    Mistress (lover)
    A mistress is a long-term female lover and companion who is not married to her partner; the term is used especially when her partner is married. The relationship generally is stable and at least semi-permanent; however, the couple does not live together openly. Also the relationship is usually,...

  • On-again, off-again relationship
    On-again, off-again relationship
    An on-again, off-again relationship is a form of casual relationship, usually sexual, between two people. It is where the couple concerned do not see their discontinuous affair as an ongoing or formal relationship...

  • Open marriage
    Open marriage
    Open marriage typically refers to a marriage in which the partners agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded as infidelity. There are many different styles of open marriage, with the partners having varying levels of input on their spouse's...

  • Polygyny threshold model
    Polygyny threshold model
    The polygyny threshold model is an explanation of polygyny, the mating of one male of a species with multiple females. The model shows how females may gain a higher level of biological fitness by mating with a male who already has a mate...

  • Polysexuality
    Polysexuality
    Polysexuality is the attraction to more than one gender or sex. It should not be confused with polyamory, the ability to be romantically involved with more than one person at once.-Gender definition:...

  • Swinging
    Swinging
    Swinging or partner swapping is a non-monogamous behavior, in which both partners in a committed relationship agree, as a couple, for both partners to engage in sexual activities with other couples as a recreational or social activity...


Further reading