Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code deals with adultery. Yes, yes. Adults, adultery, very bad pun. Got that out of your system? Okay, for real now. After a brief google search, the gist of it is, under this section, if a man has consensual sex with a married woman, then he can be charged with adultery and punished with imprisonment of up to 5 years or a fine or both (because non consensual sex counts as rape and is a criminal act anyway). Do you see the problem with that?
Under that section, CONSENSUAL sex between two adults was being criminalized because of misogyny. Whoah, whoah! Wait, don’t run away just because I used a word that you roll your eyes at! Just think about it. What is the premise of this idea? That a woman who is married no longer has the right to choose who she wants to have sex with? That somehow, her body, or at the very least, her right to consent to sex is now exclusive to her husband alone? Taking away a woman’s bodily autonomy. Doesn’t that count as misogyny?
Okay, so we have established that this Section is wrong and needs to be fixed. Either we can attempt to balance the injustice by including women in the punishment as well (i.e., a woman who has consensual sex with a married man should be punished) or you can just remove the whole damn thing. Last I checked, two wrongs DON’T make a right. So, obviously, increasing the range of the circus by punishing women as well would just be a mockery of the human condition. Instead, I am proud to state that the Supreme Court of India has scrapped it.
So, what does this mean? An epidemic of adultery and divorce?! The end of the sanctity of marriage as we know it?! Is our society going to crumble apart and are all our children going to be rendered bastards?! Is India going to become a (gasp) WESTERN country?!
Oh, shut up and relax. All this does is give back women just a little bit more of that sweet, sweet bodily autonomy we have stolen from them centuries ago. One of the biggest problems we Indians face in our society (yes, we live in a society) is that we aren’t allowed to be adults. Or, to be more accurate, our idea of adulthood is messed up. Privacy? Respect for personal space? Respect for personal freedoms? We are not taught the importance of any of these. Especially the girls. It is of utmost importance that our people be taught that a woman’s body is her own and literally no one else has the right to device what she chooses to do with it.
So, yes. Make no mistake, THIS IS A GOOD THING. SECTION 497 DESERVED TO BE SCRAPPED. Because this is the continuation of our progress towards that one statement that should be blared on loudspeakers on every Indian street: “YOU DO NOT OWN YOUR WIFE!”