Question of the Day

Would a £50 Fine Stop You From Cheating On Your Partner?

By Camille Standen

Some might say that the guilt that stems from cheating on your partner is punishment enough. But some wouldn't, and those people might be right, because I can't imagine you'd go as far as actually cheating if you were the particularly guilty type. The Vietnamese government have decided that guilt definitely isn't enough of a punishment and are trying to implement a law where anyone found to be adulterous is charged VND1 million ($48). 

We wondered whether the threat of a financial penalty would worry any prospective cheaters in London, so we went out to ask them what they thought. London, would a £50 fine stop you from cheating on your partner?

Florian, banker: That depends on the average income in Vietnam. I think it would stop some people. Here, the $48 might not equate to much, but if I was caught and it was a large amount of my income, then yes.

VICE: Do you think there should be a fine in the UK for someone caught cheating?
I think it's strange to fine someone.

Even if an agreement has been made in marriage?
I don't think there should be a fine or punishment for cheating, because people act how they want. You can't stop people from acting in a way that they want. If they want to cheat then it's their problem – it shouldn't involve anyone but the wife or the husband.

It should be dealt with personally?
Exactly. They have to live with themselves and so the state shouldn't have to deal with it. A divorce trial is about deciding who takes what, but when it comes to cheating that's personal. I wouldn't want it being dealt with publicly if someone cheated on me.

Bernard, works for a law firm: No, because it's not a financial issue. It's not about an amount of money – the money is irrelevant – I just wouldn't cheat on my wife.

But if you were that way inclined and there was a financial barrier in place, how would you feel?
I still don't think there would be any financial issue, but it really depends on the circumstances. If I was inclined to cheat on my wife, then I would have to determine why that was and how much that desire was worth to me.

That's a very measured answer. Do you think a fine in the UK would stop anyone?
I don't think so. I think it's a moral and personal choice and that should be enough of a punishment.

What if they don't personally feel that anything is morally wrong with what they've done?
It's a moral question, not a financial one. It's not something that you can make hard and fast rules about. Your question suggests that marital fidelity becomes an obligation in law rather than an obligation of the heart or of morals, and I don't think those two questions are transferable.



Benjamin, banker: It depends on what £50 represents to Vietnamese people. If the money was a large amount to me – and, by the way, if I'm ever married, I hope I won't cheat – then I wouldn't cheat. But if I had the money and was the kind of person to cheat, I don't think it would stop me.  

What would stop you?
Going to jail.

Should there be a law against adultery in the UK?
No. It's a complicated issuem but if you get divorced then that should be it. I think the laws are in place so that you get financial help when you separate. A wedding doesn't mean as much as it used to and adultery is common nowadays. 

Does that fact that it's common make it acceptable?
I don't think society will ever adapt to us, we have to adapt to society. I mean, if you want to cheat, you cheat, but if you do, you do. We're free to behave how we want.

Anonymous, banker: I don't know if money would make a difference to someone's motivation to cheat. I know I wouldn't cheat regardless, but it's very culturally different in Vietnam, isn't it? As a man, I don't know if adultery would change your life there very much, but it's probably different for women.

If someone you were married to cheated, would you want them to be punished?
Yes, with divorce. That's enough. I don't think you can ask someone to do everything for you, to adapt their entire life to yours – it's not possible in today's society.

Do you think some kind of cultural change would be needed instead of a fine?
It's a question of people's moral judgment. I think you need to make your own moral choices correctly. I think the answer is for women to be more economically empowered.

Mark, finance manager: If I was married, no – I wouldn't do it full stop. If someone did want to cheat, then you could fine them, but naming and shaming them would be more effective. That would be better for their partner.

Should the UK have some kind of punishment?
I think the UK has enough. Here, if you commit adultery and you get found out, then your partner is going to take everything from you in the divorce and you would lose money that way anyhow.

Good point.

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