Adultery according to the law is the consensual sexual intercourse between a married woman and an individual who is not her spouse or between a married man and a woman who is not his wife. Although, adultery is not regarded as a crime according to legal jurisdiction but still it is considered as a matrimonial offence and a wrongdoing by almost all the religions. The ancient religions like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity condemn adultery and treat it as a moral and social sin.
The punishment for adultery varies from country to country and region to region. In Southwest Asia, infidelity has attracted harsh treatments like death sentence. In countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, the mode of punishment for adultery is stoning to death. Similar strict laws exist in almost all the Muslim countries and in most of them, the punishment for fornication and adultery is stoning to death. However, this method of punishment has made headlines in the recent past and there had been worldwide protests against such death penalties.
Few East Asian countries like Korea, Taiwan and Philippines still treat adultery as a crime while in China it is not a crime but amounts to ground for divorce.
Bible also treats adultery as a wrongdoing and has prescribed death as an apt punishment. According to the Old Testament, ďAnd the man that committeth adultery with another manís wife, even he that commit the adultery with his neighborís wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.Ē But this has changed in due course of time and death penalty is a rare occurrence in the Christian world. In USA, laws vary from state to state. Although rarely prosecuted, but adultery is still on the statute books and penalty may vary from a fine of few dollars to even life sentence. But in US military, it is an impending court-martial crime.
The European Union has decriminalized adultery and people are not prosecuted for committing infidelity, but itís a solid ground for divorce. In some south-European countries, adultery is punishable and penalties up to a life sentence can be given but this is rarely indicted.
The Indian penal code describes adultery as a punishable offence and chastisement and penalty has been prescribed for committing adultery. The Hindu Marriage Act clearly forbids polygamous marriages and punishment for those who defy the law. Whoever commits adultery shall be punished with an imprisonment which may extend to five years, or with fine, or both. In Indian law books, adultery is still regarded as the transgression of marital property and treats Indian women as sufferers and not the ones who may have initiated the act of adultery and so they are not punishable even as abettors.
Marriage is considered as a sanctified relationship and marital vows are meant for both the spouses to execute their essential responsibilities and remain faithful to each other. Adultery is more of a social and civil offence and portrays greater capriciousness and unfaithfulness of trust towards not only the spouse, but the entire family. Adultery is a consequence of collapsing faith and conscientiousness in a relationship and demands a remedial action rather than penalizing one. The punishments imposed by laws may provide relief to the offended party for a short while but it destroys the sanctity of the marital bond and ruins family life in long term.