Adultery website launches in HK

Adultery website launches in HK
The homepage of the Ashley Madison dating website displayed on a laptop in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG - A website catering to married people who want to cheat on their spouses has raised the fury of religious groups and social workers, following its controversial launch in Hong Kong.

"It is a reality of life, we are an unfaithful society," said Mr Noel Biderman, the founder of the Ashley Madison "married dating" service.

With its slogan "Life is short. Have an affair", the website boasts more than 20 million users in more than 15 countries.

Last Friday, it launched in Hong Kong, where religious and family planning groups have come together to criticise its message, reported AFP.

Mr Biderman said he nevertheless expected his service to be "wildly popular", noting that the website received around 320,000 Hong Kong hits in the past year without spending anything on marketing.

"That, to us, indicates massive appetite for this specific product," Mr Biderman told AFP, citing rising divorce rates in the city.

Government data show 30 out of 100 married couples filed for a divorce in 2011, twice as many as in 1991. The number of divorce cases hit a record high of 21,125 last year.

Hong Kong is "in transition when it comes to relationships and marriage and that can lead to an interesting environment," said Mr Biderman.

User mamama222 was one of the first in Hong Kong to sign up. "I'm looking for various men to fulfil what my husband can't," she said on her profile.

In catering to such motivations, Ashley Madison has attracted plenty of criticism from religious groups and social workers.

"We must do everything we can to uphold the values and the stability of marriage and family", said Hong Kong Catholic Diocese reverend Lawrence Lee.

A Hong Kong Family Planning Association spokesman said: "Infidelity in any form of clan-destine extramarital affair, without the partner's knowledge or consent, may hurt the marital relationship and ultimately undermine family integrity".

Chinese University of Hong Kong professor of Social Work Lam Ching-man pointed out that the concept of marriage in the city is becoming increasingly "fragile".

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