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Adultery in China

Adultery in China : In ancient China; Punishment; and divorce; Is adultery legal in China ? There is no country in this world where traces of adultery can not be found, be it China, the US, Russia, or India.

Adultery in China : In ancient China; Punishment; and divorce; Is adultery legal in China
Adultery in China : In ancient China; Punishment; and divorce; Is adultery legal in China

Adultery laws differ from state to state. Even the countries that forbid adultery, experience several cases of extramarital affairs each year. 

But how does ancient China deal with adultery? Is adultery a punishable offence in China or not? Can you seek a divorce based on adultery in China?

In this article, we will briefly discuss the adultery law in China and its consequences.

Adultery in ancient China

In ancient times, many cultures and societies reckoned adultery as a heinous crime infringing the morals and virtues of their religious institutions. Every culture has its own set of standards to deal with crimes. 

Ancient Chinese culture prescribed severe punishment of adult dry such as death penalty, burning, stoning to death, mutilation, torture, especially for married women committing adultery. Those involved in adulterous acts got brutally tortured publicly.

In the ancient Chinese era, men were allowed to keep up to four wives and concubines, whereas women were expected to remain faithful to their husbands throughout their lives. Chastity of women was essential to preserve the morals and values of their cultures. 

There were several instances in which condemnation of adultery got recorded. One of the well-known examples of adultery was Pan Jianlian and Ximenqing. Pan Jianlian was married to Wu Dalang, who was not satisfied. She later got involved with Ximenqing and murdered her husband. The climax of the story was so tragic and devastating.

In the Qin and Han dynasty, adulterers were punished to death. The laws for adultery were very harsh for both men and women.

There was also a custom of Gong Xing. It is a type of corporal punishment that castrates the genital organs of males, and women get confined in the palace.

In the Tang dynasty, the punishment got eased with one and a half years of imprisonment for both. Also, both the adulterers get equal punishment. Although there was a concept of equality, men rarely got punished.

Later in the Ming dynasty, the adulterer with their lover gets punished with eighty rods each. These punishments were too harsh that caused a near-death experience or severe disability. Eighty rods can impair the body parts of a person. 

In the Qing dynasty, adulteress women and concubines got punished with different techniques resulting in their death. This law got strictly implemented to preserve the morals and reputation of husbands keeping several wives and concubines.

Ancient Chinese culture highly forbade the unethical practice of adultery. 

Punishment for adultery in China:

Although ancient Chinese people had a casual attitude towards sex and prostitution, adultery was considered a most unethical practice and heinous crime.

In ancient Chinese culture, several techniques to punish the adulterers were used. Some are mutilation, publicly torture with sticks or rods, beating and carrying them publicly, beheaded, burning alive, and chopping their body into two parts.

One of those techniques was the pig cage. In these, the unfaithful spouse with their lover gets tied with ropes and put inside a cage. The cage gets drowned in the big sea. The adulterer spouse with their lover gets punished with the death penalty in the water.

In the Qing dynasty, adulterers, men, and women get punished with the death penalty for their deeds.

As in most countries, adultery was a crime in China until 1935. Currently, there is no sanctioned punishment for adultery in China. Although there are no criminal consequences, adultery gets considered under the country’s civil law. It was a valid ground for divorce in China. But recent changes brought a significant change in the divorce law structure of china. 

Now, an application of divorce is not acceptable solely based on divorce, and adultery cannot invoke compensation. Adultery is no longer a punishable crime and not a ground to seek divorce. It completely vanishes from the Chinese law books.

Is adultery impact divorce in China:

In China, adultery is considered the primary cause of divorce. Most of the cases arise out of the husband’s infidelity then-wife. One-third of the divorce in China are the outcome of marital affairs. In ancient times people continued their marriages despite their spouse’s marital affair. They get feared for social disgrace and deterioration of reputation. 

Women preserve the family name and reputation by compromising their partners’ extramarital affairs.

Since ancient times, Marriage has been a sacred relationship requiring both; men and women to respect each other and remain faithful throughout their lives. 

In the new Chinese culture, as marrying is easy, divorce is also easy. 

It was easy to seek divorce in China and claim compensation for the adulterous act of the spouse if proved. A spouse was allowed to claim compensation and damages for the emotional, mental, and financial loss suffered.

In the recent amendment in divorce law, a provisional court in eastern china stated that no one gets permitted to file a divorce based on cheating alone. 

The court in Shandong states; adultery fails to meet the essential requirement mentioned under divorce law. To establish adultery, one must have sexual intercourse with another person, not their spouse. 

Also,  a long cohabitation is not established as the married person does not live with their lovers. 

Later these articles were criticised by many and taken down. Later in January 2021, China implemented a law that prescribes a 30 days cooling period for those who file for divorce. If the couples want a divorce, they have to live together for 30 days of the cooling period, after which they can initiate an application for divorce. 

Besides, Chinese law removed adultery as a ground of divorce. Now adultery is no more grounds for divorce. Even a betrayed partner cannot claim damages from the court for an extramarital affair.

Although some marriages survive infidelity, building trust again once broken is impossible. Marriage is based on faith, and trust adultery breaks the trust irretrievably. These new divorce laws in the country get highly criticised by the public, especially women. 

They are afraid of the difficulty in getting a divorce. Thus infidelity is no longer a valid ground for divorce and is not recognized by China law.

Is adultery legal in China?

No, adultery is not illegal in china. Complicated right, let us understand the adultery law from the beginning.

In ancient China, adultery gets highly condemned and considered against the morals of society. 

Whether it was the Qin, Han, or Qing dynasty, it was considered a heinous crime. In traditional law culture, punishment of adultery varied according to gender.

Both the adulterer, man, and women suffer grave punishment such as beheading, mutilation, confinement, and burning to death. As time passed, women fought for equality, and the law made it illegal for both genders to be equal.

When the China law was formed, adultery was not mentioned in the criminal code, which got opposed by the public at large. Later, between 1966-1979, when the law system got destroyed, adultery became illegal in china. Both the adulterer gets humiliated and tortured in public.

In modern China, adultery was not considered a crime in China. Now adultery is no more a crime like it was before. China’s law considered adultery a private matter and removed all the restrictions on adultery.

Although adultery was not a criminal offence, it was considered a valid ground to seek divorce. A person can claim compensation from their spouse based on adultery. But later, these laws changed again in the year 2021. 

Now a person cannot seek divorce on the ground of adultery alone. Law also barred claiming compensation on the ground of marital infidelity. It is how Chinese law changed from illegality to legality. Now adultery is neither a crime in criminal law books of china nor a ground under civil law.

Read also: Adultery in the Catholic Church; Adultery in Virginia; Adultery in Texas; Adultery in California; Adultery and Infidelity are the Same Thing?; Adultery vs Fidelity; Which Countries are Adultery illegal?

External resources: Washingtonpost

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