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Cambodian opposition outraged by adultery bill

Written by: Staff

PHNOM PENH, Sept 1 (Reuters) Cambodian opposition MPs expressed outrage on Thursday at a government attempt to pass a law which will send adulterers to jail for up to a year.

One told a parliamentary debate on the bill, likely to be passed within days given the government's strong majority, only regimes like Cambodia's own Khmer Rouge and Afghanistan's Taliban had tried to make such immorality a criminal offence.

National Assembly chairman Heng Samrin said adultery led to crime and divorce, and a law to counter it was necessary in the Buddhist nation still recovering from the Khmer Rouge genocide and where rich men often keep mistresses.

But the opposition yesterday said the bill was a step backwards for a country still struggling towards democracy.

''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.

Both regimes, he noted pointedly, were overthrown.

Keo Sovanarath, a woman lawmaker, said even the Khmer Rouge, accused of being responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people, had failed to stamp out affairs despite killing adulterers.

''They knew that they would be killed if they did so, but still they did it. We have to reconsider this law,'' she said.

The opposition said parliament ought to be passing a long-delayed anti-corruption bill, which the international donors who keep the country afloat have demanded, instead of the anti-adultery bill.


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