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Adultery Laws

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Adultery Laws Around The World

Adultery is sex outside of marriage considered objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds.

Historically, many cultures have considered adultery a serious crime, subject to severe punishment including capital punishment, mutilation, or torture. Such severe punishments are now rare as adultery has been decriminalized in most countries through the 20th century. In the small number of countries where adultery is still a criminal offense, punishments range from fines to caning and even capital punishment. Both historically and currently, the punishment for adultery may vary between women and men; the discrimination may be further exacerbated by differences in the required burden of proof to prove ones innocence.

Even in countries that have decriminalised adultery, it may still have legal consequences, particularly in jurisdictions with fault-based divorce laws, where adultery almost always constitutes a ground for divorce and may be a factor in divorce settlement.

Key representatives from the United Nations have stated that: “Adultery must not be classified as a criminal offence at all” and 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“.

Most countries that criminalize adultery are those where the dominant religion is Islam, and some Sub-Saharan African Christian-majority countries, but there are some notable exceptions to this rule, namely Philippines, and several U.S. states. In Muslim countries that follow Sharia law, the punishment for adultery may be stoning although it rarely has been applied in recent years.

In the infographic you can see which countries still criminalize adultery. The right-hand side contains a table comparing adultery laws, the Human Development Index score and whether has a majority Muslim population or not.

Perhaps interestingly, adultery remains an offence in 19 states of the United States, State criminal laws against adultery are rarely enforced.

You can find more information regarding adultery from these links:

Inter Press Service – IPS

United Nations Human Rights

Wikipedia

The News Lens – regarding adultery in Taiwan

Insider.com

Society

THE AGE OF CONSENT

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With no additional limitations or requirements, the global age of consent generally varies between 15-18 years; 51% (100 countries) of the World’s countries set the lower bar at 18 years, 31% (60 countries) have it at 16 years while 9% (17 countries) have it at 15 years old. The threshold of 17 years is only used by a single country, Ireland.

A high number of countries allow lower age of consent, subject to criteria such as the persons’ age and relationship. The age of consent decreases significantly where those rules are in place; for the United States the age of consent goes as low as 11 years of age in the states of South Carolina and New York, with most other states keeping the lower limit at 13 years of age.

A few countries impose higher age of consent for homosexual sex, with Benin, Gabon and Madagascar setting the age of consent at 21 years. Gender differentiation is not widespread, although 13 countries have a higher age of consent for men while 3 countries (Papua New Guinea, Namibia and Kiribati) have a higher age of consent for women.

Age of consent, selected countries

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THE LOWEST LEGAL MARRIABLE AGE

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The lowest legal marriable age varies widely across the World. 55% (105 countries) of the World’s countries set the lower bar at 18 years, 32% (61 countries) have it at 16-17 years while 14% (26 countries) have it at 15 years old, or even lower.

The global norm is a lowest marriable at of 18 years, without special parental or judicial consent. This is the case for men in 73% of countries and women in 69% of countries.

Particularly African countries deviate from this norm, with quite a few requiring parental consent to marry even at the age of 18. Perhaps surprisingly, the same applies for a number of East Asian countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand, where marriage without parental consent may only be possible from the age of 19, 20 or even 21.

In 44 countries the lowest marriable age is lower for women than for men and as visible in the infographic above, a few countries stand out with exceptionally low minimum marriable age. When considering the possibility of judicial consent, several countries join this list: Central African Republic (13), Tanzania (14) and Andorra (14). Lebanon stands alone as a country allowing girls to marry as young as 9 years old, with judicial consent.

An example of extreme opposites is Equatorial Guinea where both men and women must be 23 years old in order to marry with no parental consent; with parental consent though these limits drop drastically to 14 years old for boys and just 12 years old for girls.

Lowest legal Marriage age, selected countries

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