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Should adultery be re - criminalized?

(257 Posts)
SlowFJH Sat 02-Jan-16 11:08:50

There's been a plethora of threads from OW in recent days. The general feeling on MN seems to be "cheating is always wrong". Yet most "civilised" countries have removed "Thou shalt not commit adultery" from their statute books many years ago. Was this a mistake?

Of course in those same countries it is still a legitimate grounds for divorce.

Branleuse Sat 02-Jan-16 11:10:35


Branleuse Sat 02-Jan-16 11:11:30

You think that marriage should actually mean legal OWNERSHIP over someone else again

AllThatGlistensIs Sat 02-Jan-16 11:12:01


Learningtoletgo Sat 02-Jan-16 11:12:23

I think you are mixing up civil and criminal law there. Just because adultery was grounds for divorce didn't make it a criminal act confused

SlowFJH Sat 02-Jan-16 11:12:30

Really what?

hadtoregregister Sat 02-Jan-16 11:13:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Shakey15000 Sat 02-Jan-16 11:16:11

Ye Gads. Criminalized to what extent?? There's not enough room in prisons as there is. So, um no. Ridiculous.

TheBestChocolateIsFree Sat 02-Jan-16 11:19:13

There are millions of Mumsnet threads where people are criticised for doing things that are immoral but not illegal. Half the bridezillas in England would be locked up if we started using "behaviour which I think is hurtful to others" as the benchmark for criminal penalty.

SlowFJH Sat 02-Jan-16 11:19:44

The UN actively campaigns for the decriminalization of adultery in countries that still view it as a crime. Such laws tend to be unfair to women.

In the West most countries agree you can't have adultery as a criminal offence. Just wondered what thoughts were here - particularly given all the opprobrium we see on MN.

Should interested in general views.

Trills Sat 02-Jan-16 11:23:04

It would be a civil matter anyway.

Not a crime.

Breach of contract, perhaps.

Learningtoletgo Sat 02-Jan-16 11:23:25

Ah I see what you mean now. You are referring to a long time ago when it was an illegal act rather than the modern shift from a fault based divorce on the grounds of adultary to a no-fault divorce approach.

In which case...

Are you crazy!!

Marriage should not give you ownership over another, that's called slavery.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sat 02-Jan-16 11:24:12

Oh why not? We could always take it a step further and introduce 'stoning' in the UK. That would go down a storm with JK contestant-style people and over-achieving knitters.

Up the women! hmm

PurpleDaisies Sat 02-Jan-16 11:27:01

No. There are all sorts of things that are morally rubbish that aren't (and shouldn't be) illegal.

If you commit adultery (as the married person or the ow/om) you should expect to be judged as not a nice person but it shouldn't be a crime.

sofato5miles Sat 02-Jan-16 11:27:44

This is interesting. I've noticed a much more black and white attitude to infidelity in recent times and have wondered if the shift in attitudes could take us towards criminalising it.

meditrina Sat 02-Jan-16 11:28:42

No, it's a dreadful idea.

And nothing whatsoever to do with the condemnation of betrayal.

There does seem to be a concerted effort at the moment to make those who think betrayal is wrong, and that both parties in the betraying couple carry responsibility (albeit at different levels), are somehow unreasonable.

I put this down to the frustrations of those who cannot see their illicit partners during family holidays (there's always a Christmas spike) and who want to make themselves feel a bit better.

MorrisZapp Sat 02-Jan-16 11:30:26

There are countless things we judge every day as being wrong, immoral, unacceptable. But they are not and should not be criminal offences.

Saying 'Tommy Hilfinger', for example.

Penfold007 Sat 02-Jan-16 11:31:04


HairySubject Sat 02-Jan-16 11:31:23

No, I don't think it should be a crime. Yes it is a shit thing to do but it is not always black and white what about the om/ow that don't know their new partner is actually married how would you prove their guilt? Or is it just the person that is married that would commit the crime?

Also it would give people control over others. Imagine if you wanted to separate but the other party wouldn't sign the divorce papers. Then you could never move on because to do so would be a crime.

DrDreReturns Sat 02-Jan-16 11:34:17

No. As pp have said it (marriage) is a civil contract, so adultery is currently not a criminal matter. It is (I think) grounds for divorce.
Distasteful as it is, I can see no point in criminalising it.

AuntieStella Sat 02-Jan-16 11:36:04

Slightly at a tangent, but (as title says 're-criminalisation') has it ever been a criminal matter anywhere in the British Isles?

Not Anne Boleyn, as that was treason because it had potential to interfere with the succession, but 'ordinary' adultery. Because I thought that even under the Puritans, it was a civil or church matter, not one for criminal law.

TheBestChocolateIsFree Sat 02-Jan-16 11:39:20

It was criminal under the Puritans, I just googled it out of interest. There were executions (women, naturally) in the 17th century. I recommend you don't google yourself if you are easily upset because the details are distressing.

DansonslaCapucine Sat 02-Jan-16 11:40:47

How would it be proven? In neither's interest to admit it. Police resources to investigate?

Unworkable even if anyone thought it was a good idea.

MorrisZapp Sat 02-Jan-16 11:41:10

as always, women are the gatekeepers of sexual morality, and the first in the firing line when judgement falls.

SlowFJH Sat 02-Jan-16 11:41:40

In many countries (including several Catholic countries) it was actually a criminal offence until fairly recently. Most Judaeo-Christian cultures took the Ten Commandments as the basis of their jurisprudence. Thankfully only two of them are still illegal in most liberal countries.

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