Marriage traditionally sees marriage as two people coming together to care for and love one another, be each others’ companions and, importantly, to be faithful. Since the start of the 21st century however we have seen a shift in how we treat relationships, particularly marriage, with some people choosing to have open marriages and more.
However, in a typical marital union, adultery is still viewed as the ultimate betrayal. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines adultery as “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than that person’s current spouse or partner”. In South Africa, infidelity in marriage may be seen as immoral, but it is not illegal. Disciplining the adulterer is in the hands of the betrayed spouse, which can sometimes result in legal implications.
Certain countries, however, have legal systems with laws in place that punish adultery and to try prevent it from occurring altogether.
In Taiwan, for example, you could see yourself serving four months for every act of adultery committed, according to a law which applies to both men and women. Anyone caught having relations with a married woman, meanwhile, is likely to spend a year in jail.
Northern Nigeria takes matters to a different level with their approach to marriage infidelity. Although it has not been done in years, the punishment involves stoning the perpetrator to death – yes, death.
Could the creation of infidelity laws in South Africa actually stop people from committing adultery? The idea of someone remaining faithful to you because the law requires them to could be somewhat reassuring, or could mean feeling unsure whether your spouse is committed to you out of love or simply obligation.
What do you think – should laws be put in place to stop spouses from being unfaithful?