Picture this — a seemingly happy middle-class suburban family in Mumbai, a mom, a dad, 2 kids in junior school, a cat and a dog — the complete nuclear family (read Happily married). Their daily schedule is pretty much dull and on point. Dad leaves home in the morning for work and returns only at 11:00 pm or so after a night out with colleagues or friends. Mom finishes her morning chores of making tiffin, getting the kids ready, packing their bags and then take the kids to school. While returning she buys veggies and brings home to cook. She cleans and then after her personal grooming and meal, she watches her shows. Kids return at five in the evening when they will have their tutor help them out with their studies. Seems like a normal day though. Except that the tutor arrives at home at about 4 ish and mom and the tutor have some quality one-on-time romp in the sack and some refreshments before the arrival of the kids.
NO!!!! This is not a TV show or a cheap B-grade novel. This is a real-life story of a woman in her mid-30s, in Mumbai, who is totally lonely at home with no company or no husband to talk to (because he is too busy or their mental levels do not match)!
As a part of my research for a website, I came across many women discussing adultery and the various reasons for it. To give a fair context, I had interviewed about 20 women between the age group of 30 and 45. Cannot share exact details as the research was done for a particular website. The questionnaire included many other parameters other than adultery, like domestic abuse, nuclear family vs living with in-laws, distribution of labor at home where both partners work for a living… so on and so forth.
Adultery or extramarital affairs was a topic that had the coils running in my head especially with the amendment in Section 497.
I found myself asking the same question to everyone along with others –“does adultery include only carnal relationships outside of marriage or does it also include emotional bonding of people wherein nothing physical has happened or will happen in the future”
While most participants agreed that adultery would include some sort of physical relationship, but the reason for the need of that physical relationship varied from people to people. Although emotional adultery is also a thing, which I may discuss in another blog or so.
For some, it was just enjoying a variety, while some sought a relationship outside marriage because he/she wanted to be appreciated for who they are and they were not getting that attention or care from their spouses. Loneliness and indifference seem to be the main trigger for these many affairs outside marriage. Even falling in love out of the blue seemed to be a personal favorite of women whose marriage were arranged.
So, getting back to my observation; even though IPC has amended Section 497, however, the questions lie in the facts that can this be avoided? While the active party gets their loneliness or the taste for a buffet cured, what happens to the passive party (spouse, kids) who becomes unwittingly a part of something they never bargained for? Maybe their (passive parties) actions compelled for this to happen or they were completely unaware that their spouses are looking elsewhere for comfort and sex.
I also realized from this exercise, that extramarital affairs are more common than I would have cared to believe. it is not only restricted to extra rich people and movie stars but a rather common phenomenon in the regular middle-class household too.
I am not discussing or insinuating the morality of the choice here. I am no one to judge anyone, because, to each, their own and everyone has a reason for their actions. However, what is the cost that all the parties involved have to pay if and when the hide and seek game is caught?