From our man in Phnom Penh – Cambodia’s parliament passed a bill on Friday which could send adulterers to jail for up to a year. It is expected HM the King will sign it into law presently.
HM’s government rightly urged the law forward pointing out that a stand needed to be made against immorality in a country which has developed an international reputation for sex-tourism and filthyness in general.
Further, a government spokesman said, it would help reduce the “pervasive corruption of government by removing the temptation for officials to steal from state coffers to maintain mistresses”.
The government argued that making adultery a criminal offence would help shore up civil finances and the family.
Many wives resent the unfaithfulness of their husbands, some to the point of violence.
In the last 7 years, at least 108 cases were reported of women being attacked by acid, usually by an outraged wife, human rights groups say.
Few such cases make it to court, most being settled by compensation, often funded from the same illicit sources used to install and maintain the bit ‘o’ fluff.
The opposition argued that a law on adultery smacked too much of rigidly authoritarian regimes like the Khmer Rouge and the Taliban for a country still recovering from the Pol Pot years in which 1.7 million people were killed or died of overwork and starvation.
“There are only a couple of countries in the world which prosecuted personal immorality based on their sacred texts such as the ousted Taliban regime,” opposition MP Eng Chhay Eang said in the debate.
“They forced people to follow their tradition which cannot be accepted. So did Pol Pot’s regime. They murdered people who had love affairs,” he added.
The government has stressed that no religion has informed the legislation, but that the law is based are hard-nosed economics and social cohesion.
The custom of formally keeping mistresses was first introduced by the French Colonial administration. The French penchant for extra-nuptial hanky-panky is well known.
Sociologists disagree over its causes and origins; currently en vogue is the the theory that it is the result of the unpleasantness of French wives and children, however the majority view remains that it is a simple and logical consequence of the moral incontinence of the Gallic people.
A spokesman for HM’s Government stressed the place of the nuclear family as the fundamental building block of society and the dire consequences of its removal, although he stopped short of pointing to the rapid disintegration of France as an illustration.