Article Title: Decriminalisation of adultery is the first of many steps
This article is praising the decriminalisation of adultery as first of many steps for greater freedom, equality, and independence within what is commonly understood to be the private sphere. On September 27, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and decriminalised adultery in India (it remains a “civil offence”, that can be a ground for divorce).
The writer, who is an advocate feels that the judgment is important not simply because it got rid of an archaic and patriarchal law, but also because of its consequences for the future. Section 497 of the IPC — part of the British-enacted penal code of 1860 — criminalised adultery, but did so “asymmetrically”: that is, only the man — and not the woman — who engaged in adultery could be punished. The main problem was that the law was based on gender stereotypes, and therefore violated Article 14 of the Constitution (equal protection of laws), and also Article 15(1) (non-discrimination on grounds of sex).
The positive aspect is that all the judges were clear that a woman has the right to bodily integrity, individual choice, and personal autonomy not just against the State, but also within the context of the home and the family. Therefore, the decriminalisation of adultery may have a ripple effect that goes beyond its immediate context, and serves as a launchpad for greater freedom, equality, and independence within what is commonly understood to be the private sphere.
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Words to learn from this Article:
Archaic: very old or old-fashioned.
Connive: secretly allow (something immoral, illegal, or harmful) to occur.
Patriarchy: a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
Chattel: an item of property other than freehold land, including tangible goods ( chattels personal ) and leasehold interests ( chattels real ).
Concur: happen or occur at the same time; coincide.
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