ASK many Pinoys to think Korea. Three things may come to mind: kimchi, Koreanovelas, and K-pop.
Add decriminalizing adultery as a possible fourth.
Last Feb. 26, South Korea’s Constitutional Court declared as unconstitutional a law that jailed spouses committing extramarital sex.
According to the social news network Rappler, a 1953 law made adultery punishable by a maximum jail term of two years. The Constitutional Court recently rejected the 60-year-old adultery law as “it infringes people’s right to make their own decisions on sex and secrecy and freedom of their private life,” reported Time.com.
Any fan of Koreanovelas, or any soap for that matter, knows how infidelity drives many plots. Whether the new ruling will dilute the allure of the forbidden from bed-hopping as a conflict device and cause serious blocks for scriptwriting in Korea will have to be for speculation.
Reality is quicker than make-believe. Right after the Constitutional Court announced its landmark decision, stocks in Unidus Corp., a SoKor condom company regarded as one of the world’s biggest suppliers, “soared to the 15% daily limit gain,” reported the Rappler. Last year, 892 persons were indicted for adultery in SoKor.
We might feel smug and superior to our SoKor neighbors. Our Roman Catholic-molded morality condemns extramarital flings. Yet, the querida system is well-entrenched.
And the game of musical beds fuels more than local telenovelas. In a graduate class discussion for possible projects in enterprise reporting, a professor wondered aloud how the underground economy of setting up mistresses in love nests keeps the condominium bubble from bursting in Metro Manila.
Lest we think the law favors women better than our split morality, specialists point out that, under Article 333 of the Revised Penal Code, only a woman and her lover can commit adultery in the technical sense. A husband must bring a mistress to the conjugal home; have sexual intercourse “under scandalous circumstances” with a mistress; or cohabit with his mistress before he can be accused of concubinage, according to Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code.
Not only does adultery carry a longer jail term than concubinage, the latter is more difficult to prove. Concubinage charges will not stick if the evidence only proves a husband’s infidelity. There are proposals to end this legal discrimination against women by abolishing adultery and concubinage and creating only the crime of marital infidelity, applicable to both wife and husband.
For now, only Republic Act 9262, or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004,” provides a shield for victimized women. The law protects a woman from “psychological violence,” which are “acts or omissions” that cause her “mental and emotional suffering,” such as harassment, stalking, damage to property, public humiliation, repeated verbal abuse, marital infidelity, sexual abuse, and deprivation of visitation rights of common children.
Victims of violence should seek help from various Women’s Desks set up at the Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, and Department of Justice Public Attorney’s Office.
In time, no one will turn a blind eye to adultery, on reel and for real.
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* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s March 1, 2015 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”