While jumping through news sites, one of my friend pointed out the Josef Fritzl’s case. The story made me gasp in horror. Fritzl has been repeatedly raping his daughter from the past twenty years and has fathered seven children with her, out of which six are surviving. Fritzl has been keeping his daughter a prisoner in the basement of his house while his son and wife were unaware of his deed. You can read the complete story here. One of the six children named Kerstin Fritzl has been suffering from epilepsy and has been put into a clinically induced coma. Two other boys named Stefan and Felix are coping up with sunlight and open spaces after been confined to a dark closed space for such a long time.
What shocked me was the ruthless way in which all of this was carried out. Josef Fritzl has been depicted as the most inhuman monster mankind has ever known. While rummaging through Internet to gain insight into this horrendous crime, I came across another aspect of the story where the monster was the victim. According to this report, Fritzl himself was brought up by a very temperamental mother and was subjected to brutal abuses. This somehow explains the mental imbalance and the psychological effect of his growing up years which would have lead him to commit this crime. Somehow he lost the power to feel sympathy towards anyone and even abused his own wife after their marriage. Time would tell the fate of Fritlz but its hard to imagine the trauma of his daughter and the children. Most of the psychiatrists are quite doubtful about the future of the children as it might take at least four to eight years of intensive therapy for them to return back to a normal life. Incest victims generally suffer from low self esteem, depression, anxiety, difficulty in relationships, sexual malfunction and personality disorders to name a few.
What Fritzl did is something unpardonable as it was forced and ruthless. While reading Archana’s post, I realised that such incidences are not something uncommon, although not so extreme in nature but equally disturbing. While googling, I came across another aspect of Incest which will be equally shocking for most of us.
Consider the following stories :
- A German couple Patrick Stuebing and Susan Karolewski are fighting the law. Patrick is Susan’s brother and they have four children. Patrick has already served a jail sentence of two years as Adult Incest is against the law in Germany. Their first three kids have been taken away from them are are living with their foster parents. You can read the full story here.
- Woody Allen married his former lover, Mia Farrow‘s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn who is 35 years younger to him. Farrow and Allen were dating for almost a decade when she found out of his relationship with her adopted daughter. You can read the story here. Although this is not a pure case of Incest per se, but Allen was a father figure to the Farrow kids ever since Previn was in her pre-teens.
- John Deaves and his daughter Jenny admitted to having incestuous relationship and the couple have a nine month old daughter. They are permitted to see each other but can’t have sexual relationship. You can read the story here.
- Ancient civilizations like Egyptian, Roman and Greek allowed incestuous links, specially in the royal families. It is said that Cleopatra herself married many of her brothers.
- There are tribes in Africa which practice “Internal Reproduction” which ensures that the tribe survives. They don’t look at it as Incest but as a survival technique.
All these stories and facts underline the role which culture and Jurisdiction play to make Consensual Incest punishable. There are some religions which allow marriage with cousins and distant relatives while some allows marriage in the same cast but not in the same family tree.
The issue of legalizing incest is being raised again and again against the age old taboo. The question being asked is that if same sex marriages and Prostitution can be legalized in some countries, then why not Consensual Incest? How can a consensual activity between two adults be criminal?
Scientifically, it was argued that members of a family belong to the same gene pool, so the probability of defects and diseases increase. This can become more severe if the inbreeding is allowed for several generations. But a recent study reveals that children of unrelated parents have a 3% to 4% risk of having serious birth defects, while the offspring of first cousins have only a slightly higher risk of about 4% to 7%. This has again turned the tide against the present laws in many countries.
Surely, what Fritzl did is a punishable offence but there is a debate over how the prevailing laws need to be modified to put Forced and Consensual Incest in two separate boxes. The quintessential questions(in case of Consensual Incest) still remains – Is the modern society of any country ready for such a relationship between two consenting adults or will they still be treated as outcasts? Is it just a matter of how we choose to live or how we choose to live in a society? Different people will look at the issue with different angles. Some might find it completely wrong morally and ethically while some might have an I-don’t-care attitude towards it.
What do you think?
p.s. For the latest developments on the Fritzl case, you can read this.