Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Women's group calls for end to anti-adultery law

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government should work more at preventing bad marriages rather than wasting resources by penalizing adulterers, women rights advocates said yesterday.

The government’s refusal to decriminalize adultery is unfair and discriminatory to women, they said.

Awakening Foundation chairwoman Fan Yun (范雲) said adultery should be resolved by the couple in question and the government had no right to meddle with personal problems in the bedroom.

Taiwan is one of the few remaining countries in the world where extramarital sex can be punished by a heavy fine or a maximum of three years in prison.

“The law might seem like a lifesaver for women with cheating husbands, but in reality, it only restricts women’s right to break free from an awful marriage,” Fan said.

Article 1052 of the Civil Code stipulates that an individual who seeks a divorce must present evidence to show his or her spouse has committed bigamy, engaged in a sexual act with another person, purposefully abandoned the family, has the intention to murder, has been abusive, is chronically ill or missing for more than three years.

Fan said to collect evidence against their husbands, most women hire private investigators to catch their spouse having sex with another person. The process is not only expensive and unreliable, but also puts the women at risk of libel for invasion of privacy.

Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), one of the founding members of the organization, said there have been cases in which the court threw out evidence provided by women because they failed to present an actual condom that contained the bodily fluid of both her husband and his partner.

“Which means even if you have pictures of them naked in bed, it is still useless,” she said.

A recent study conducted by a National Science Council researcher indicated that between 1999 and 2005, 50 percent of the women who sued their spouses for adultery withdrew their lawsuits, while only 23 percent of the husbands dropped charges against their allegedly cheating wives.

“In this society, it is still widely viewed that when a man cheats on his wife, it is nothing serious. But when a wife has an affair, she is a slutty tramp,” said Yu, calling the stereotype unfair and untrue.

By treating adultery as a crime, the government is also taking away an adult’s freedom to engage in consensual sex, National Taiwan University law professor Chen Chao-ju (陳昭如) said.

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