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Senate Repeals Crime of Adultery

By: David Real | Real Acapulco News - 26 March, 2011

(Mexico City, AN 25 March) Mexico’s Senate unanimously approved the repeal of Chapter IV of Title 15 of the Federal Penal Code that made adultery a crime. The problem was that the crime was very difficult to prove, as the accused would have to be caught in flagranti delicto either under indecent conditions or in the marital home. The penalty provided was up to two years in prison and a loss of civil rights for six years. The law was enforced only with respect to wives; men were never made subject to the rule.

Senator Pablo Gómez of the PRD said that the crime was almost impossible to enforce, and it was used mainly by men as a means of subjugating women and treating them as chattels. He said, “We are committed to restoring basic freedoms to women, and thus it was necessary to repeal this horrid law.” Other members also said the law was obsolete and contrary to the principle of gender equality. As a matter of cultural tradition, a husband who found his wife with a lover in the family bed was entitled to kill them both with impunity (though the reverse was not permitted, should a wife discover her husband in the same circumstances). The repeal of the law probably brings an end to that tradition, as no crime is being committed, and therefore any violence would not be justified. Many are skeptical, however, that the repeal of one statute can change a cultural reality that has lasted for centuries.