Mypaper published an article today “It shatters marriages. It’s a business. It’s coming.” (23 October 2013) about a new website for people seeking relationships. However, this is no ordinary dating website. It is specifically for people who are ALREADY married. Meet Ashley Madison. Tag line? Life is short. Have an affair.
Singaporean couples, already battling the stresses and strains of a hectic urban lifestyle, must brace themselves for a new threat to their relationships: The innocuously named Ashley Madison, a website that facilitates extramarital affairs, plans to launch here. It has been labelled a business built on broken hearts and ruined marriages. Meanwhile, relationship experts are worried.
It would be a disastrous thing for our country if such a website were to be introduced into Singapore. It is already hard for so many Singaporean couples to keep their marriages intact due to the external pressures of society and the stressful lifestyles we all lead, and the fact that it is much easier to cheat on your spouse whether emotionally or physically in the highly-connected, technologically advanced world we live in today.
While Ashley Madison may not be technically illegal, as adultery itself is not a crime, the potential damaging impact of such a website is wide-ranging. It does not take a genius to see how a website that encourages spouses to cheat will lead to extra-marital affairs which will ultimately lead to a breakdown of marriages and higher rates of divorce.
Trish McDermott, a consultant who helped found Match.com, rightly points out that behind the innocuous name and hot pink layout, Ashley Madison is a “business built on the back of broken hearts, ruined marriages and damaged families”.
This is true. Ashley Madison’s business model will do infinitely more harm than good. This whole concept of abetting cheating spouses is harmful because it treats the covenant of marriage as something which can be easily disregarded and discarded. Instead of putting emphasis and value on trust and commitment within marriages, such websites will have the opposite effect and bring chaos into fragile homes.
Already, without the help of cheating websites, divorce rates in Singapore have been skyrocketing. One in four marriages end up in divorce and there are also more reported incidents of family violence. When a catalyst like Ashley Madison is brought into the picture, it is very likely that these rates of divorce and family violence will only increase. Why continue to celebrate or glamorise cheating when we know of the severe emotional pain it brings?
The Singapore government has always said that families are the basic building block of society. If we take a more lax attitude towards infidelity in marriage and adultery, we will only weaken the foundation on which our society stands. People in Hong Kong, where Ashley Madison has been introduced recently, have been vocal in their complaints. We believe those concerned in Singapore should do likewise and let the government and those with the power to exercise cyber censorship know how we feel about Ashley Madison.
As our Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said at the Family Justice Practice Forum, “What we must ultimately aim for is an eco-system in which we will hear clearly the voice of the child so that the child’s best interests are appropriately addressed; and where disputes and differences are resolved in a sensible and non-technical manner with a measure of heart, compassion and sympathy.”
Such an eco-system that the Chief Justice envisioned cannot be cultivated when so-called dating websites like Ashley Madison are given the freedom to facilitate adultery. It certainly does not place paramount importance on the welfare of Singaporean children, and will ultimately only bring pain and trauma to countless of husbands and wives and cause the destruction of many families.
Instead of allowing the building blocks of society to crumble away, let us take a more proactive stance and petition our leaders to block such a website from being introduced to our shores. Singapore has never shied away from controversial positions before – we need to protect what we need to protect – and we do not expect anything less for this impending attack on the family and institution of monogamous marriage.
- Adultery Website Attacked As Threat to Hong Kong to Family Life (scmp.com)
- Making money off infidelity in Asia Ashley Madison (cnn.com)
- Online “Dating” Site Ashley Madison is Disgusting