‘Extra-marital affairs: A muddled option, not one’s own valid right’
Shahriar Bin Wares writes for DOT
“So, if there are any couples here this evening having a secret extramarital affair, I encourage you to breed.” ― Alison Larkin, The English American. This quote can be related to the recent incident in Chattogram regarding the allegation of engaging against a wife in extramarital affair.
Mustafa Murshed Akash,32,a doctor of Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) was found dead allegedly committing suicide at his residence inChandgaon Residential Area in the port city on 31st January, 2019. According to the Police, the deceased’s wifeTanzila Chowdhury Mituanswered in questioning that, they (the couple) got into a physical fight just a few hours before the victim injected himself with a poisonous substance. AlsoChattogram Metropolitan Police Additional Deputy Commissioner Mizanur Rahmansaid,“Mitu confessed to some of the things, but evaded some matters.” Furthermore, before killing himself, he wrote several posts on Facebook accusing his wife of adultery, instigating him and causing him undue grief and distress. After the post, he changed his profile picture to a photo with his wife, captioned: “Keep well my beloved, with your lovers.” However, the post has been removed.
Section of 306 of the Penal Code 1860 states that “If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
In fact, there is a very substantial difference between the term ‘Adultery’ and ‘Extra-marital’. Though both the offence could be treated as the catalyst of other and the mother offence of so many other offences but extra-marital affair is yet to be included in our Penal Code as an offence. In section of 497 of the Penal Code 1860 it is provided that whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case, the wife shall not be punished as an abettor. Isn’t it discriminatory? So, very commonly questions may arise whether in Bangladesh the married women are legally allowed to enter into a relation with anyone else with the permission of their husband? This section might create a scope for the husband to compel their wife to enter into illicit relationship for monetary or other tangible benefit which would be against Article 34 of the Constitution of Bangladesh. Because no one can be subjected to forced labor like forced prostitution as this Article of the Constitution provides.
Nowadays, in our society the moral values are getting re-shaped. Naturally, it might be a question how many of us those who are married (adult) and also unmarried (adult) think twice to meet our physical needs with someone else?
However, critics may argue it is their life and choosing a partner is their own wish. Also this topic might come into the readers mind that, Supreme Court in India has recently quashed Section 497. However, that is not a binding legal precedent in Bangladesh. And it would be better not to set the precedent in the perspective of Bangladesh otherwise we may witness many heart-breaking incidents.Sexual emotions are among the strongest human emotions, it can lead one vulnerable to a degree that it would be difficult to perceive at the beginning. It is a matter of huge concern when someone’s ‘unethical’ physical intercourse practice directs someone to expire his or her life.
Extra-marital affairswould often naturally lead to divorce or separation. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) report, In 2006, the crude rate of divorce was 0.6 per one thousand of the population and this increased to 1.1 in 2016 while the rate of separations also rose to 0.6 from 0.2 during the same period.
However, inserting specific provisions on extra-marital affairs, the implementation of section 306 and the abolition of section 497 may only have a limited impact if someone is not fair enough from the inside. It never feels good to us, if we come to know your loved one is engaged with someone else. It is needless to say how much important happiness is in our limited life. Also, in conjugal life, psychological attachment along with physical attachment might play a key role to be deterrent from extra-marital affairs and not to affect your coming ones.
Shahriar Bin Wares is a sstudent of Department of Law at North South University.