The crime of incest consists of either cohabitation or sexual intercourse between closely related persons, such as between parent and child or between siblings. Jurisdictions vary in their definition of what degree of relationship constitutes incest.
Incest is defined as sexual activity between two people who are considered, for moral or genetic reasons, too closely related to have such a relationship. Incest is regarded as a serious taboo in almost every society, although cultures differ as to the extent to which marriages are allowed between relatives. The crime of incest consists of either cohabitation or sexual intercourse between closely related persons, such as between parent and child or between siblings. Jurisdictions vary in their definition of what degree of relationship constitutes incest—for example, whether sex between first cousins or step-relatives is criminal. Many jurisdictions restrict the crime to acts between blood relatives.
In the Bible, we discover that marriages in the early Jewish communities were contracted within a lineage. In fact, it was an abomination for a Jew to marry out of his or her lineage because they believe that the new entrant into their lineage could pollute their religious sanctity. When Abraham wanted to marry a wife for his son Isaac, he had to send his servants to his lineage to pick a wife for his son. When Jacob’s daughter had a sexual affair with some people out of their lineage, it constituted and abomination which led some of Jacob’s sons to slaughter the culprits.
So it actually depends on the custom and tradition of a people to decide whether a case is an incest or not. But the truth is that many traditions forbids incest and stipulates severe punishments for offenders. Incest happens in most cases as a result of Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA) which when it exists between two relatives, could lead to sexual relationship.
Genetic sexual attraction (GSA) is sexual attraction which builds up between close relatives, such as siblings, cousins or a parent and offspring, who first meet as adults. Genetic Sexual Attraction may occur in cases relating to adoption where relatives meet for the first time as adults and fall in love. Most of the time this kind of cases are merely implied in stories where siblings separated at birth and meeting only as adults and falling in incestuous love; but sometimes people do it and lay it out right in the glare of everyone damning the consequences.
Genetic Sexual Attraction is rare between people raised together in early childhood, such as most siblings, because right from childhood, they know themselves as siblings. In some cases where the familiarity is severed, the end result is always one getting attracted to the other relative. That is why in the early Egyptian monarchy, the siblings in the Palace end up committing incest because the female siblings are kept separately from the male and they only get to know themselves as adults. In this kind of case, they may likely end up committing incest because they never knew themselves as siblings from childhood.
Some siblings commit incest involuntarily while others voluntary step into it. There are few cases where siblings met as adults and unknowingly, they stock together and start a sexual relationship that could even lead to marriage. In this kind of case, what will be their faith if they eventually discover they are siblings? This couldn’t have been a fault of theirs; so in most cases, they just continue to leave their lives pretending not to be siblings. In some African traditions, when such cases arises, some rituals are done to appease their gods and a cleansing done for the siblings involved and they continue to live together or break up if they so desire.
In some other cases, siblings get attracted to themselves and voluntarily commit incest. This kind of instance in many traditions are abhorred and seen as abomination. Many see this kind of situation as lack of self discipline and control in the siblings involved and most traditions will kick against it and punish the culprits. There was an instance of a young lady who discovered her grandfather as an adult and fell in love with him.
Julie Turner, 23, discovered she had been adopted as a youngster, and found out that her only living relative was her 73-year-old grandfather Charlie Peterson and immediately contacted him. They exchanged letters, photographs and phone calls before arranging to meet at Peterson’s home in California, to catch up and discuss family history. As they met, both of them began to develop sexual attraction to each other and voluntarily, they got married and are expecting a baby as Julie immediately got pregnant for her 73-year old grandfather. Isn’t that a shock? But its true and its happening every day in our society.
Finally, most incest cases are as a result of lust. A father lusting after her daughter or step daughter will end up raping his daughter or step daughter. Most rape cases are done by relatives who can not boldly ask their siblings out for sexual relationship because of the impending reprimand from the other sibling, so they retort to rape to satisfy their urging lust and desire to have their sibling. If its done involuntarily, its understandable but if it is contracted voluntarily, it calls for a different understanding.
Picture by cdsessums (flickr.com) creative commons
Godwill A. Paul is a Clergy and Authour based in Lagos.