Adultery (also called philandery, anglicised from Latin adulterium) is sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than the spouse. Religious and legal interpretations of what constitutes adultery vary widely.
The term adultery has an Abrahamic origin, though the concept predates Judaism and is found in many other societies. The definition and consequences vary between religions, cultures, and legal jurisdictions, but the concept is similar in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.
Historically, adultery has been considered to be a serious offense by many cultures. Even in jurisdictions where adultery is not itself a criminal offense, it may still have legal consequences, particularly in divorce cases. For example, where there is fault-based family law, it almost always constitutes grounds for divorce; depending on jurisdiction, it may be a factor to consider in a property settlement, the custody of children, the denial of alimony, etc. Moreover, adultery can affect the social status of those involved, and result in social ostracism in some parts of the world.
In countries where adultery is illegal, the punishments range from fines to the death penalty. In the 21st century, criminal laws against adultery have become very controversial, with international organizations calling for their abolition, especially in the light of several high profile stoning cases that have recently occurred in certain countries. Opponents of these laws cite the fact that adultery laws are a major contributor to discrimination and violence against women, as they are enforced selectively mostly against women; that they prevent women from reporting rape and sexual violence; and that they maintain social norms which justify violent crimes committed against women by husbands, families and communities. The head of the U.N. expert body charged with identifying ways to eliminate laws that discriminate against women or are discriminatory to them in terms of implementation or impact, Kamala Chandrakiran, has stated that: "Adultery must not be classified as a criminal offence at all". A joint statement by the United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice states that: "Adultery as a criminal offence violates women’s human rights".
Famous quotes containing the word adultery:
“The task of an American writer is not to describe the misgivings of a woman taken in adultery as she looks out of a window at the rain but to describe four hundred people under the lights reaching for a foul ball. This is ceremony.”
—John Cheever (19121982)
“There are few who would not rather be taken in adultery than in provincialism.”
—Aldous Huxley (18941963)
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
—Bible: New Testament, Mark 10:11.