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Work towards a world that ensures safe and secure homes free of incest abuse, through comprehensive awareness initiatives, collaborative planning, policy research, advocacy and community action.
Raise awareness about incest amongst individuals, families, communities and society, empower them with prevention and intervention skills. Provide reporting and intervention services for victims, perpetrators and their families. Create safer homes through robust community based support for everyone affected by incest. Undertake research, document and disseminate information on incest abuse. Support and participate in local, national and international platforms to seek assistance for prevention of incest abuse in our society.
We define incest as usually socially prohibited, sexual relationships that include just close blood relationships only; parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece. Type of activities may include but are not limited to, flashing, petting, touching, caressing, kissing, molesting and intercourse.
Instead of merely accepting some morally pleasing and politically correct assumptions, incest was analysed in further detail to ensure our definition has a logical foundation.
Despite common understanding that Islam encourages consanguineous marriages and relationships, the revered Muslim theologian Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1059–1111) in his principle ethical work, the lhya ‘ulum al-din, asserted that "the woman should not be a near relative of the husband, because near relationship diminishes the sensuous desire." Aryans from North of India primarily scoff at consanguineous marriages while it is acceptable amongst the Dravidian South Indians. Religious endogamy is mandatory for the Parsi community in India, leading to consanguineous marriages between cousins.
It seems that religiously speaking, incest was not acceptable or advised but consanguineous relationships do have the religious sanctity under certain sub-sects. So is there more than what meets the eye? Is incest a question of need over ethics? Is one community’s terrorist actually the other community’s freedom fighter?
The Austrian neurologist and father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud argued that as children, members of the same family naturally lust for one another, giving rise to Oedipus Complex. Hence making it necessary for the societies to create incest taboos, but Westermarck argued the reverse, that the taboos themselves arise naturally as products of innate attitudes.
In an interesting modern example of the Westermarck effect at work, researchers studied traditional Chinese families, who sometimes adopt a young girl into their households with the intention of marrying the girl to their sons. They discovered that the girls are often strongly opposed to such marriages when they come of age, and that these marriages are more prone to later dissolution, childlessness, or adultery.
While most cultures in recorded history have held sibling or parent-child couplings taboo, royalty have been exempted in many societies, including ancient Egypt, Inca Peru, at times Central Africa, Mexico, and Thailand. While royal families in Europe avoided sibling incest, many including the Hohenzollerns of Prussia, the Bourbons of France and the British royal family often married cousins. The Spanish Habsburgs, who ruled for nearly 200 years, frequently married among close relatives. A New England missionary Hiram Bingham arrived in Hawaii in 1820 to find Royal incest, was "not only accepted but even encouraged" in Hawaii as an exclusive royal privilege.
Can we use a historic economic factor to rule our present day life? Furthermore, what about the biological issues related to incest?
The Spanish Habsburgs may have ruled for 200 years, but their dynasty ended in 1700 with the death of Charles II, a king so riddled with health and development problems that he didn't talk until he was four or walk until he was eight. He also had trouble chewing food and couldn't sire a child. The physical problems faced by Charles and the pharaoh Tutankhamun, the son of siblings, point to one possible explanation for the near-universal incest taboo: overlapping genes can backfire.
It has been found that siblings who are raised apart at times develop sexual attraction to each other when they meet later in life, developing what is known as genetic sexual attraction. Would their responses provide any linkages to any of the other perspectives mentioned above? Are they even relevant? Does incest take a different variant here?
While we grapple with these thoughts, let’s address yet another aberration to this taboo. It is often debated about how incest is different from sexual abuse? Why don’t we treat them in a similar fashion since the very act of incest is similar to that of sexual abuse; momentary or long-term sexual gratification. Can we not simply rest the case of abuse of minor involved in incestuous activity under child sexual abuse? How does one differentiate between what is primarily a variation of sexual abuse?
Even though it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt how incest causes far higher damage by breaking the trust in the closest of relationships, often beyond repair, the legal recourse is not that simple.
In India a combination of the following provisions of law are used by the authorities to register the case:
I.P.C. Section 90- Consent known to be given under fear or misconception I.P.C. (1860) 511- Attempt to sexually exploit I.P.C. (1860) 354- Outraging the modesty of a woman I.P.C. (1860) 375- Rape I.P.C. (1860) 376- Rape by personnel of armed forces, rape resulting in death or vegetative state, gang rape and repeat offences I.P.C. (1860) 377- Unnatural offences Goa Children's Act, 2003 POCSO (2012) formulated in order to effectively address the heinous crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. Though a legal triumph of sorts, it has it’s own shortcoming. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance (2013)
Sexual abuse is any sort of non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual abuse can happen to men or women of any age. Sexual abuse by a partner/intimate can include derogatory name calling, refusal to use contraception, deliberately causing unwanted physical pain during sex, deliberately passing on sexual diseases or infections and using objects, toys, without consent and to cause pain or humiliation.
Medem defines child sexual abuse as "any sexual act with a child performed by an adult or an older child." Child sexual abuse could include a number of acts, including but not limited to sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed, encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, including masturbation, intentionally engaging in sexual activity in front of a child, showing children pornography, or using children to create pornography, penetrative sex, including penetration of the mouth. A sexually abusive relationship is one over which a child or man/woman has no control.
John Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro defined it as "sexual behavior between siblings that is not age appropriate, not transitory, and not motivated by developmentally, mutually appropriate curiosity". It is sometimes referred to simply as ‘sexually harmful behavior’ rather than abuse, but we shall refer to it as ‘abuse’ so as not to devalue the impact that this experience can have on the survivor. It can refer to abuse that takes place between siblings, half-step- adoptive siblings or cousins.
Incest is referred to as sexual contact between family members, under which a trusted family member uses his/her power, as well as a child's love and dependence, to initiate sexual contact and often to ensure that the relationship continues and remains secret. Since sexual contact is often achieved without overt physical force, there may be no obvious signs of physical harm. Whether or not the signs of abuse are physically obvious, sexual abuse in childhood can have lifelong consequences.
Let’s now add the fact that children are more likely to be sexually abused by an adult they know and trust, while parents teach children to expect danger from strangers and not from trusted authority figures. Consequently, a violation of this trust is so terribly frightening and confusing for the victim that incest has become one of the most unreported crimes in the country.
Research was originally undertaken by Supreet Dhiman to fulfill partial requirements for the Post Graduate Diploma in Human Rights and Duties at the USOL, Panjab University Chandigarh. The initial responses became a springboard for the research to continue beyond the academic qualification. It is being conducted using an online questionnaire ensuring anonymity of the respondent.
The data submitted by you in this anonymous fashion, would be analysed and compiled in a detailed project report. Any significant findings may be shared with the relevant authorities and policy makers to pay attention to this neglected aspect of human behaviour. If you wish to recieve a summary of the final report, then please send an email to the student author of this research questinnaire on firstname.lastname@example.org
We value the time you will be spending in completing the questionnaire, providing us with vital data to bring in positive changes in our social fabric.
Please note that research findings and any submissions made as part of the research may be shared anonymously, by stripping it of identifiable components while maintaining the essence, at any platform that may help END INCEST, in principle and practice.Help Raise Awareness