Sunday, September 03, 2006

One Country Makes Adultery A Crime

Unfaithful spouses in Cambodia face up to a year in prison after the country's lower house of parliament passed a law that bans adultery as well as polygamy and incest.

The law would punish Cambodians for extra-marital relations or incest with between a month and a year in prison, plus a fine of up to 250 dollars.

Formally marrying a second spouse would be punishable by between six months and one year in prison, plus the same fine.

The Senate still must approve the law, which then goes to King Norodom Sihamoni for signing, but both are considered formalities.

The law was approved by 64 of Cambodia's 123 MPs, with opposition parties boycotting the vote on a law they consider to be draconian.

"This law will be good only on paper, but it won't be properly enforced," opposition party leader Sam Rainsy told reporters.

"The real aim is that they will use this law as a tool against people they want to politically mistreat."

Royalist lawmaker Monh Saphan warned the law would "interfere in the private lives of individuals," and said the nation would be better served by toughening anti-corruption laws.

But national assembly president Heng Samrin said the law would help strengthen the kingdom's morals.

"This law can also help to reduce corruption, because if a government official has many wives or mistresses, he will become greedy for the state's money," he said.

The opposition has denounced the law as a throwback to the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime that ruled the country from 1975-1979, when extra-marital affairs were punished by execution.

Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed the law five months ago, after he publicly grumbled about government officials bringing their mistresses instead of their wives to official functions.

Although polygamy is a common practice in traditional Khmer families, the law would notably affect the leader of the royalist FUNCINPEC party, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is often seen in public with his mistress.

Prince Ranariddh was the president of parliament until early this year, when it changed the requirements for a parliamentary majority and handed control of the legislature over to Hun Sen's party.

Copyright © 2006 Agence France Presse.

The 50-Mile Rule: Your Guide to Infidelity and Extramarital Etiquette