Adultery no longer a crime: Taiwan court strikes down law in landmark ruling
The judgement that decriminalised adultery in Taiwan is lauded by rights activists across the island who see it as a step forward towards women's rights and protecting the right to privacy.
Taiwan's constitutional court, in a landmark judgement on Friday, struck down an 85-year-old law against adultery. The move decriminalised adultery that was earlier punishable by up to a year in prison. The judgement is lauded by rights activists across the island who see it as a step forward towards women's rights and protecting the right to privacy.
Taiwan joins the list of other Asian countries that have banned stringent laws against marital infidelity in recent years. In 2018, India scrapped its adultery law. Terming it as "archaic, arbitrary and unconstitutional", the Supreme Court in its hearing said that the colonial-era law which treated women as the property of the male has no place in the modern world. In 2015 South Korea decriminalised adultery.
Lin Hui- Huang, secretary-general of the Justice Ministry in Taiwan said, "The adultery law offers limited help to maintaining marriage relationships. State power interfering in people's marriage actually has a negative impact on marriage."
"The adultery law was a violation of a person's sexual autonomy as well as a serious invasion of privacy," he added.
Huang's statement resonates with Chief Justice Hsu Tzong Li's 2017 remark where he condemned the punitive nature of the law, calling it a "serious invasion of personal privacy".
According to the International Commission of Jurists, a human rights organization, Taiwan's infidelity law disproportionately targeted women who were 20 per cent more likely to be charged and prosecuted under the law than men. For a long time, activists pointed towards the unequal treatment that dismissed the rights of women and caused a gross violation of justice.
Wen-Wei Chen from the women’s advocacy group Awakening Foundation said that "women would end up being disproportionately targeted due to gender stereotypes and rigid notions of femininity." Critics said that the law could be used to pressurise victims of sexual assault not to press charges, as doing so could lead to facing adultery charges which are way easier to prove in the court of law.
The recent judgement comes as another victory for rights activists in the democratic island of Taiwan. Last year, the country legalised same-sex marriage paving the path for equality and room for all.