What Is Incest?

Incest is defined by Dictionary.com as “sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry”. This definition largely applies in general to any two individuals who share a closer relationship, such as first cousins, by biologically-defined family members. Throughout history, proscriptions against incest have existed, and in modern time, have been codified in law. In some countries, the rules of incest run wide and deep, while in others, such relationships are permissible in certain cases or between certain types of relatives.

The Prevalence of Incest

The prevalence of incest – whether consensual or not – is difficult to measure, as it is not usually reported on public forms and surveys, even to anonymous scientific researchers. Most studies estimate that a small percentage of incestuous relationships exist in society. For example, it has been estimated that 3-5% of Americans admit to having had a sexual relationship with a close family member and up to 8-10% of Americans have had an incestuous relationship without knowing it. This means that, although it is not a widely accepted practice, it is not as rare as it may seem.

Consequences of Incest

Incestuous relationships, regardless of being consensual or not, can have serious effects on both those directly involved and on their extended family. Psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder may occur due to the complexities of the incestuous relationship. Additionally, births resulting from incestuous relationships have an increased risk of birth defects compared to those born out of non-incestuous relationships. This makes it vitally important that victims of incest take measures to protect themselves and take appropriate medical care.

Prevention and Support for Incest

Due to primarily being kept as a secret, the rate at which incest occurs is difficult to determine. However, there are preventative and protective measures that can be taken to ensure the safety of individuals who may be at risk of harm. Appropriate resources should be made available to provide victims of incest with emotional and medical support. Also, laws against incest should be more strictly enforced, with those found guilty of perpetrating such crimes facing harsher penalties. Lastly, education on the topic of incest should be provided to the public to raise public awareness on the issue.

In Conclusion

Incest, though not widely discussed, is a prevalent phenomenon in society. It is important for individuals to be aware of the potential risks associated with being involved in an incestuous relationship. Prevention is key, and it is essential for individuals to be knowledgeable about any potential risks or harms they may encounter. Furthermore, appropriate resources should be made available in order to provide victims with emotional and medical support. By increasing public awareness and enforcing laws against incest, the number of people involved in such relationships can be gradually reduced.

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