extramarital sex or sexual acts carried out between a married person and someone who is not that person's spouse. Based on the region and religion, adultery has various social, religious, and legal consequences.
Adultery is often considered objectionable on social and religious grounds. Sexual intercourse between a married person and another individual is considered to be an act of adultery. A long-term sexual relationship between the two individuals is referred to as an affair. Many cultures consider adultery to be a serious crime, and the punishments can range from fines, canning, stoning, humiliation, torture, and capital punishment.
There have been concerns about the punishments served for adultery. Many have argued for the decriminalization of adultery, and it has been carried out in most western countries. However, the act of adultery can still have legal consequences. Adultery is considered an argument in divorce cases and is often a factor in property settlement, child custody, and alimony payments. The partner involved in adultery is at a disadvantage when it comes to the above-mentioned factors.
Several countries still criminalize adultery. Most of these countries are Muslim-dominated regions that follow Sharia law for criminal justice. Stoning is the punishment for adultery in this culture. Fifteen countries consider stoning as a legal punishment procedure, although in recent times, stoning has only been carried out in counties like Iran and Somalia. International organizations like the United Nations have called for the decriminalization of adultery in these regions. Representatives of the United Nations have stated that adultery must not be classified as a criminal offense at all.
Real World Example of Adultery
There have been several high-profile cases of adultery involving celebrities. One of the biggest such scandals happened with Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods is considered one of the best golfers of all time and has had an illustrious sporting career. He is one of the very few black golfers on the international circuit. However, the events following the night of November 27, 2009 changed his life and his image in the media.
On this day, the US Weekly published a report suggesting that Woods had an affair. The allegations of adultery and prolonged sexual relationships were made by two women, Jaimee Grubbs and Rachel Uchitel. These allegations inspired several women to come forward with their sexual encounters with the golfer. The details of each act of adultery were displayed on front-page newspapers and tabloids for weeks together.
Shortly after these allegations, Tiger Woods admitted to committing adultery numerous times during his marriage. He took a prolonged sabbatical from his golfing career to work on his marriage and image. Tiger lost most of his sponsorship deals with major brands like Accenture, Gatorade, and GM. His wife, Elin Nordegren, filed for divorce in August 2010. Tiger Woods eventually returned to competitive golf in 2011. In April 2019, Tiger won the Masters after 11 years; at 43, he became the second oldest golfer to win the Masters.
Significance of Adultery
Adultery refers to sexual relationships that are not legal. Adultery does not come into the picture in the case of couples who indulge in polygamy and polyandry. Polygamy is when a man is married to more than one wife at a time. Polyandry is when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time. This practice is legal in several countries and traditions.
Adultery or marital infidelity is often used as a defense for provocation to a criminal charge such as murder or assault. In common English law, adultery is referred to as a felony. Historically, there has been a partiality in the consequences of male and female adultery. In many cultures even today, female adultery is considered a much graver act. The humiliation and punishment for a female indulging in adultery are far worse than what are endured by a male.
Adultery is quite prevalent in today's times as shown by Durex's global survey. The survey indicates that 22% of the surveyed people admitted to having extramarital sex. In a United States survey, it has been found that 50% of the males and 26% males of the females have indulged in adultery at least once during their marriage.
History of Adultery
Cultural and religious traditions involving adultery have changed over time. The punishment for adultery is different in every religion and culture. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, there were stringent laws against adultery. These laws only applied to sexual relationships with married women. Otherwise, it would not be considered adultery (say, if a married man had sex with an unmarried woman or a slave).
Christianity considers adultery a sin; it is mentioned in the seventh commandment: "Thou shall not commit adultery." Several passages in the Bible mention capital punishment for the act of adultery between a man and a married woman. However, this punishment does not apply to sex with an unmarried woman. Judaism prescribes the death penalty for adultery.
In Islam, adultery is considered a violation of the marital contract and is condemned by God in the Quran. Most Arab countries consider stoning the most suitable punishment for adultery.