[EDITORIAL] Adultery Law Warrants DiscussionThe Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the Korean law prohibiting extramarital sexual relations was constitutional. The justices said that the law protecting family values is needed more than a person's right to decide on sexual partners, and we support that aspect of the ruling. At the same time, we believe that it is time for the legislative branch to open debate on the law reflecting diversified views.
Social awareness concerning a person's right to decide on sexual partners has heightened in Korea; there has been public debate that rape laws should apply to forced sexual actions, even for married couples. Some argue that the law on adultery is not to protect women, considered the weaker gender in our society, in reality, and significant numbers of feminists argue to discontinue the law.
The law prevents some adultery in our society, reducing the number of wives divorced because of adultery. However, the social atmosphere of overlooking men's misconduct more easily often puts women in shackles unfairly. Because the crime of adultery has tended to be abolished in many countries, Korean society likely will have to follow suit.
However, keeping adultery a crime punishable by law in our society not only means protecting the morality of marriage, but also providing a protective measure for the lives of women. About 10 years ago, 1.1 divorces were filed for every 1,000 Koreans, but the rate has now increased to 2.5. Since gender equality has not yet made deep inroads in our society, divorces typically only cause women to suffer. In most cases, women are eligible for only about 30 percent of the property divided by divorces. Discontinuing the law preventing adultery should be discussed in a larger framework to improve women's legal status.