Adultery is not criminal in Ghana – Thinking Aloud Series


Adultery is not criminal in Ghana – Thinking Aloud Series

Did you know that sleeping with another man’s wife or husband isn’t considered a criminal act in Ghana? Ah! You are shocked!

The Oxford dictionary defines Adultery as “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.”

In fact, there are two types: single adultery (with an unmarried person) and double adultery (with a married person.) Did you know that? I guess you didn’t.

Well, a very close friend of mine who is a High Court judge once told me this during an argument about how you cannot legally punish someone for sleeping with your partner.

The judge categorically said that a man or woman having sexual affairs with another person’s husband or wife is not a crime in Ghana’s statutory laws.

He went on to educate me by stating that infidelity is not a criminal offence but rather a moral offence, hence the reason why nobody can be prosecuted and jailed after being caught with another person’s partner.

Husband refused to divorce wife after she allegedly committed adultery 

Indeed he also warned that if anyone caused harm to another man or women after catching them engaging in the act of infidelity/adultery would rather find themselves behind bars on charges of assault… how ironic!

The High Court judge even surprised me more when he said that one cannot even report their partner’s lover to the Police for them to be arrested or charged… “what will the police charge them with?” he quipped.

He however explained further that the act of adultery is enough grounds for divorce, but it is yet to be criminalised by the state.

Adultery is extramarital sex that is considered objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds. Although the sexual activities that constitute adultery vary, as well as the social, religious, and legal consequences, the concept exists in many cultures and is similar in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

In the UK, since the introduction of the Matrimonial Causes Act in 1857, adultery has not been a crime. However, that does not mean that it’s acceptable. Adultery used to be one of the five grounds to cite a divorce. However, this is no longer the case.

But in the US, although adultery is a misdemeanor in most of the states with laws against it, some including Michigan and Wisconsin categorize the offense as a felony.

Punishments vary widely by state. In Maryland, the penalty is a paltry $10 fine. But in Massachusetts, an adulterer could face up to three years in jail.

In order to prove adultery via circumstantial evidence in court, one must show that the adulterous spouse had both the “disposition” to commit adultery and the “opportunity” to do so.

Evidence of “disposition” includes photographs of the adulterous spouse and the other man or woman kissing or engaging in other acts of affection. Allegations alone won’t do.

The scriptures teach us that Jesus affirmed the commandment against adultery and seemed to extend it, saying, “But I say to you, anyone who looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” He taught his followers that the outward act of adultery does not happen apart from sins of the heart.

The unfaithfulness of a married person to the marriage bed; sexual intercourse by a married man with another than his wife, or voluntary sexual intercourse by a married woman with another than her husband are notable examples considered adultery on the part of the married wrongdoer.

The Writer
Citizen Atare
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