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Adultery no longer a crime in India

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Adultery is no longer a crime, India’s Supreme Court has ruled. In doing so, it declared a colonial-era law that punished the offence with jail time unconstitutional and discriminatory against women.

The more than century-old law prescribed that any man who slept with a married woman without her husband’s permission had committed adultery, a crime carrying a five-year prison term.

A petitioner had challenged the court to strike down the law, describing it as arbitrary and discriminatory against women.

“Thinking of adultery from a point of view of criminality is a retrograde step,” unanimously declared the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court.
Women could not file a complaint under the archaic law nor be held liable for adultery themselves, making it solely the realm of men.

The court said it deprived women of dignity and individual choice and “gives license to the husband to use women as a chattel”.

“It disregards the sexual autonomy which every woman possesses and denies agency to a woman in a matrimonial tie,” said Supreme Court Justice D. Y. Chandrachud.

“She is subjugated to the will of her spouse.”

Read also: European Parliament to punish Hungary for erosion of democracy

It was the second time this month the court overturned Victorian-era laws governing the sexual choices of India’s 1.25 billion citizens.

Earlier this month, the court struck a ban on gay sex introduced by British rulers in 1861.

The bench argued that Section 377 had become “a weapon for harassment” of homosexuals and “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families”.

On adultery, government lawyers argued it should remain a crime as it threatens the institution of marriage, and caused harm to children and families.
But in its ruling, the court said extramarital affairs — while still a valid ground for divorce — were a private matter between adults.

In 1954, the court upheld adultery as a crime arguing “it is commonly accepted that it is the man who is the seducer, and not the woman”.

But in their ruling on Thursday, the judges said this narrative no longer applied, noting also that Britain did away with its own laws penalising adultery long ago.

“Man being the seducer and women being the victim no longer exits. Equality is the governing principle of a system. Husband is not the master of the wife,” the verdict added.

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Musings From Abroad

Turkey reveals plot, gory details of how Saudi journalist Khashoggi was murdered, cut in pieces

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Turkey reveals plot, gory details of how Saudi journalist Khashoggi was murdered, cut in pieces

A little over a week ago, a prominent Saudi journalist walked into the consulate general in Istanbul, intending to get paperwork that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée. She hasn’t seen him since, CNN reports.

Since then, officials and journalists have scrambled to piece together the story of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Turkish authorities have privately said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, a startling allegation that is firmly denied by the Saudis. Closed-circuit television footage, flight trackers, intercepted communications and even rumors of a bone saw have served as pieces of a puzzle that has spurred a diplomatic outcry.

In the latest developments on Wednesday, Turkish security officials concluded that the “highest levels of the royal court” in Saudi Arabia ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, according to a senior official cited by The New York Times.

Turkish officials have said that a 15-person team flew from Saudi Arabia into Istanbul on the day Khashoggi entered the consulate, and they have provided information about two private planes that, they say, were involved in the transit of these Saudis. Aviation data analyzed by CNN backs up evidence of the planes’ arrival in Istanbul.

The official quoted by the New York Times described the operation as “quick and complex,” and that Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate. The agents “dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose,” the official told The New York Times. “It’s like ‘Pulp Fiction,'” he added.

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About the only thing that is known for sure about Khashoggi’s fate is that he was last seen at 1:14 p.m. local time last Tuesday as he entered the consulate.

His disappearance has prompted calls for investigations from around the world.
The kingdom’s staunchest Western allies, including the United States, where Khashoggi had applied for permanent residency, have urged Saudi Arabia to come clean.

Trump said Wednesday that he’s been in touch with the “highest levels” of the Saudi government about Khashoggi’s case and expressed concerns about his possible murder. He said his administration was pressing the Saudi government to reveal more about the incident.

“We’re demanding everything. We want to see what’s going on here. It’s a bad situation,” Trump said in the Oval Office.

But he stopped short of saying whether he believed the Saudis have knowledge about his whereabouts, or may have played a role in his disappearance, stating that not enough was known to make a determination.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied Turkey’s account of the story, saying that Khashoggi left the embassy on the same day he arrived.

In a statement to CNN on Wednesday, a Saudi official said the kingdom “categorically” denies “any involvement in Jamal’s disappearance.”

“At this stage, our priority is to support the investigation, as opposed to responding to evolving comments not directly related to those efforts. Jamal’s well-being, as a Saudi citizen, is our utmost concern and we are focusing on the investigation as a means to reveal the truth behind his disappearance. Our sympathies go out to the family during this difficult time,” the official said.

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Pope dares Abortionists. Will more Catholics abandon the faith?

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Pope Francis on Wednesday compared having an abortion to hiring a “contract killer”.

It would not be the first time that the leader of the Catholic movement would express strong reservations about the act.

This time, he said, in an address to worshippers at the Vatican that, “Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone.”

“Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem. “Is it just to resort to a contract killer to solve a problem?” he queried.

Read also: Melania Trump to undertake solo tour of African nations

Pope Francis earlier this year opposed a bill that would have legalised abortion in his home country of Argentina.

In August, a lay campaign group said thousands of Argentine Catholics had renounced their membership of the church to protest against his opposition to the bill.

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European Parliament to punish Hungary for erosion of democracy

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The European Parliament on Wednesday voted to punish Hungary for cracking down on democratic institutions, setting off a process that could ultimately lead to the suspension of the country’s voting rights in the European Union.

It is the first time that the parliament has launched the EU disciplinary process against a member state, known as Article 7, and it exposes the deep unease in parts of Europe about the policies pursued by Hungary’s hardline prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

The vote comes nine months after the European Commission used its power to launch the same process against Poland. The rarely invoked process is designed to prevent member states from breaching the EU’s “core values.”

Wednesday’s vote in Strasbourg, France, followed a report from Dutch Green member of the European Parliament Judith Sargentini that raised concerns about Hungary’s erosion of democracy in recent years, including crackdowns on migrants, the media and academic institutions.

The vote was passed 448-197 with 48 abstentions, giving it the crucial two-thirds majority needed.

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But in a text message sent to CNN, Hungary’s government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs called the results into question, “Clearly: less than two-thirds voted yes under the treaty. Pro-migration political representatives are so desperate to punish us for our stance that they even violate the rule of law.”

“The whol(e) procedure is not simply a witch hunt and shameful for the EP(P) — but a FRAUD,” he added.

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