Women can’t be adulterous; a view far removed from reality


    Women can’t be adulterous – the long and short of the 158 year old law on infidelity, is far removed from reality. Section 497 says adultery is committed when a man (does not specify married or single) has consensual intercourse with another man’s wife without his (husband’s) consent. It is a crime and the man who has the relationship with the married woman is charged. The woman goes blame free.

    The question arises – has the woman not committed adultery? Why should she be absolved of the crime when she is a willing and an equal participant? The law should be gender neutral, reflecting the changing fabric of our society.

    Our constitution grants gender equality, unequivocally stating that men and women are equal. Though enshrined in our constitution, it is still a distant reality that hopefully our children get to see.

    True, some laws need to be softer for women given the gender discriminatory character of our patriarchal society. However, with changing times, when women seek to be neck to neck in every sphere, and are succeeding in many areas, a ‘weaker sex’ treatment in adultery law does not hold water. Neither can it be assumed that women are such paragons of virtue that they can’t commit this crime. Women are human beings with flaws and desires.

    A gender neutral society maybe a distant dream, but our judiciary and executive, which are known to have foresight, should take into account the progress that we have made over the last century and turn archaic laws of yesteryears into laws for tomorrow.

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