South Korea top court upholds ban on divorce rights for unfaithful spouses

South Korea top court upholds ban on divorce rights for unfaithful spouses

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of South Korea [official website] on Tuesday upheld a law that forbids an unfaithful spouse from filing for divorce. The 7-6 ruling [Express Tribune report] was the result of a challenge to the law by a man seeking to divorce a wife he left 15 years ago for another woman. In affirming that “the spouse who is mainly responsible for a broken marriage cannot file for divorce,” the court stated that its ruling was due in part to a need to protect women from their husbands divorcing them without justifiable complaint in a country where gender equality still needs to improve. Couples may still end their marriage if the spouses are able to agree on a settlement.

This decision follows another ruling by the South Korean court regarding infidelity. In February the Supreme Court of South Korea decriminalized extramarital affairs [JURIST report], holding 7-2 that the law doing so was unconstitutional. The decision was hailed by many as a victory for women’s rights, but discrimination and violence against women remain global issues. A UN report in February stated that young girls have been attacked [JURIST report] in 70 countries for pursuing an education. Also that month UN officials called for an end [JURIST report] to all female mutilation. In January the UN urged El Salvador to pardon women [JURIST report] jailed for seeking abortions due to rape or pregnancy complications. Also in January, in a criticized decision, a UK court upheld a regulation [JURIST report] that requires domestic violence victims to provide specific types of evidence before obtaining legal assistance.