What if incest was legal?
Incest: When love becomes a crime
In 2008, a court had already confirmed that sexual intercourse between siblings was criminal. It was justified with the preservation of family order and the protection of sexual self-determination. The main reason for the decision was the lawsuit of 40-year-old Patrick S. from Leipzig, who had four children with his sister and had served several years in prison for them. But what exactly do we mean by incest? And why is incest forbidden?
What does ‘incest‘ mean?
Incest (Latin incestus = unclean) - also colloquially incestuous - is used to describe sexual relationships between close relatives. There is agreement that sexual intercourse between siblings and relatives in a straight line (grandparents, parents, children) is incest. Sex between cousins and second cousins is not considered incest. In many countries, including Germany, a relationship between first-degree cousins is not considered incest.
Most people have a natural incest avoidance. Researchers assume that the smell of relatives alone triggers natural sexual avoidance behavior.
What is the legal situation with incest?
Section 173 of the German Criminal Code prohibits sexual intercourse between relatives, i.e. biological relatives and biological siblings are not allowed to have sexual intercourse with one another. Anyone who violates this can be punished with up to three years in prison. Incest is now a taboo in almost all cultures. Nevertheless, the legal situation is different, as is the case in Europe. In many countries there is no regulation at all, in France an incest regulation has even been abolished. Following this example, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, among others, do not punish incest. In addition to Germany, incest is also a criminal offense in Switzerland, Denmark, Italy and England.
Why is incest prohibited?
First and foremost, the prohibition of incest is justified with the protection of marriage and the family. Families should be kept free from sexual relationships. Children and younger siblings should be protected and not involved in sexual relationships with relatives.
Incest and Hereditary Diseases
The prevention of hereditary diseases is another reason for the incest ban. Because there is a great danger that such a connection could result in physically or mentally damaged children. The risk of genetic diseases increases with the degree of relationship. It is estimated that around half of children are born into sexual relationships between siblings with genetic defects. These can manifest themselves in abnormalities and disabilities of a severe nature.
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