Will cheating website Ashley Madison thrive in conservative PH?

The Philippines is one of Ashley Madison's newest markets, and the company is optimistic of great results in the predominantly Roman Catholic country
Screengrab from Ashley Madison

MANILA, Philippines –  A visit to the dating website Ashley Madison, which calls itself a “married dating company,” will show that the Philippines is now among the countries where the service is available.

On Ashley Madison, which aids in facilitating “discreet encounters,” users must first indicate what they’re looking for, and may also specify if they are attached or single, though the site is primarily geared towards married people. One can also chat with other members online at the same time, and find individuals who are nearby or in the same area. 

The Philippines, with its predominantly Roman Catholic society, and also predominantly Muslim country Turkey, are the newest markets for Ashley Madison. But the conservative nature of these countries doesn’t seem to bother the company, as it remains optimistic about great reception in these markets.

“We’ve seen that in other markets that are conservative such as Switzerland, we do extremely well. In Catholic countries, we do extremely well, like in Brazil, Spain and Italy. And the Philippines unites all of those factors,” Christoph Kraemer, the company’s European communications director and spokesperson told ABS-CBN. “Plus, the additional factor is that divorce is illegal here in the country, which will be a new experience for us.”

Despite their business model, Kraemer said that the company doesn’t want people to divorce and that they and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines actually share that “common goal.” In fact, said Kraemer, Ashley Madison could even help save marriages via different situations – for example, if someone tries an affair then realizes that it’s not for them, leading to a rekindled relationship.

He said that they are open to discussions with the CBCP. 

“Some say their relationship with their spouses improved after having an affair. It’s like the spark and passion were reignited. And it’s very telling that in its 12 years of existence and 30 million members, not once have [we] been been cited in a court case as a reason to get a divorce. We don’t endanger a marriage, we actually help save a marriage,” he said.

With regard to launching in a Muslim country like Turkey, CEO Noel Biderman told the New York Observer: “Infidelity is happening [in Muslim countries] anyway….In the Muslim world, I can provide women the opportunity to have discreet affairs and not risk their marriages, or something more severe.”

On their website’s FAQ section, Ashley Madison says that the site does not, in fact, encourage infidelity. “In fact, if you are having difficulty with your relationship, you should seek counseling.

However, if you still feel that you will seek a person other than your partner to fill your unmet needs, then we truly believe that our service is the best place to start….You can go at your own pace and change your mind any time you wish.” – Rappler.com