Thank You For the Adultery Verdict, Supreme Court. Time to Recognise Marital Rape Next

Social Commentary

Thank You For the Adultery Verdict, Supreme Court. Time to Recognise Marital Rape Next

Illustration: Akshita Monga

T

oday the Supreme Court struck down the law that declared adultery a criminal offence. After the landmark Section 377 ruling, the Supreme Court undertook the task of scrubbing yet another outdated colonial relic from our penal code. Adultery is no longer criminal, but before you turn polyamorous without telling your spouse, remember it is still grounds for divorce. Only you won’t end up in jail.

The law proscribed a fine and imprisonment for up to five years for the guilty man, and please note the deliberate use of the word man, because according to Section 497 only men could be found guilty of adultery. If you want to know whether the adultery law is archaic AF, checking to see if it grants women any agency, or just regards them as their husbands’ property is a good place to start. Which is exactly what the Supreme Court did, and found that the law was discriminatory toward women. Women were not even eligible to file a complaint accusing their husbands of adultery, and the wording of the law also contained sexist undertones by punishing only those men who had affairs with women “without the consent or connivance” of her husband.

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