Wednesday, May 21, 2008

News: "Celebrity Scandal Tests South Korean Adultery Law"

A Korean TV personality husband accused his actress wife of having an adulterous affairs with his singer friend and her Italian chef.

The husband accordingly filed an adultery case against the wife. The wife does not deny her relationship with her husband's friend, but she is questioning the constitutionality of the 55-year old adultery law.

In arguing for the scrapping of the law, the wife's lawyer said: "The state meddling in which sex partner we should have - that's too much. Such a time is gone."

In the Philippines, the issue is not on the decriminalization of adultery. Our morality conscious society will not allow such. The more pressing issue is the sexist view of the law with regard to the crimes adultery and concubinage.

The Revised Penal Code provides:
Art. 333. Who are guilty of adultery. — Adultery is committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void.

Adultery shall be punished by prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods.

If the person guilty of adultery committed this offense while being abandoned without justification by the offended spouse, the penalty next lower in degree than that provided in the next preceding paragraph shall be imposed.

Art. 334. Concubinage. — Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.

The concubine shall suffer the penalty of destierro.
You can clearly see the double standard here. A married woman can be jailed for having one sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband. It's as simple as that. On the other hand, a married man must have paraded to the world that he has a mistress before being jailed for concubinage.

Take note also of the penalty for both crimes. A guilty wife can be puniished by prision correcional in its medium and maximum periods; a guilty husband - prision correcional in its minimum and medium periods.

Thus, it is easier to prosecute adultery than concubinage. Yet, a wife (guilty of adultery) can be imprisioned a wee bit longer than a husband (guilty of concubinage). See the disparity?

Maybe it's also time to take a closer look at our adultery and concubinage laws.

News taken from IHT and NY Times.
Photo: kevindooley, Creative Commons, Flickr

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