Why does Israel permit(ted) incest

Why does Israel permit(ted) incest???

The general prohibition against incest with one’s “near of kin” (Lev. 18:6) has been held to be limited to the following degrees of consanguinity: parents (18:7); mother-in-law (20:14); stepmother (18:8); sister and half sister (18:9) (but not a stepsister as the Karaites maintained); granddaughter (18:10); aunt (18:12–13); wife of father’s brother (18:14); daughter-in-law (18:15); brother’s wife (18:16); stepdaughter and step granddaughter (18:17); and wife’s sister during the lifetime of the former (18:18). This list is exhaustive and may not be added to by analogies (Sifra, Aḥarei-Mot 13:15), since creation of any criminal offense requires the express pronouncement both ofthe conduct prohibited and the resulting punishment (see *Penal Law; cf. Ker. 3a; Sanh. 74a). A list of another 20 degrees of consanguinity was later drawn up, however, by way of analogy – albeit not to create additional criminal offenses, but as additional prohibitions of intercourse and impediments to *marriage (Yev. 21a; Maim. Yad, Ishut 1:6).

The punishment for the various offenses of incest varies – while biblical law prescribed death by burning for incest with one’s mother-in-law (Lev. 20:14), it did not prescribe any particular mode of execution for other capital offenses of incest (Lev. 20:11, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21), some of which were clearly to be visited with *divine punishment (*karet; Lev. 20:17, 20, 21). In talmudic law, the offenses of incest were eventually classified as follows:

(1) those punishable with death by stoning – incest with mother, stepmother daughter-in-law (Sanh. 7:4);

(2) those punishable with death by burning – incest with stepdaughter, stepgranddaughter, mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, daughter, and granddaughter (Sanh. 9:1); and

(3) all other offenses of incest to be punishable with karet or *flogging (Maim. Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 1:4–7). As several of the offenses are threatened with both judicial and divine punishment (e.g., incest with mother and stepmother; Ker. 1:1), the rule was evolved that capital punishment would be imposed judicially only where the offense had been committed after previous warning that it was punishable and in the presence of witnesses; while divine punishment was deemed to apply where the offense had been committed without such previous warning and without witnesses being available (Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 1:2–3). Flogging came to be administered not only by way of punishment for such incestuous acts as had been made criminal offenses, but also by way of admonition and rebuke (makkat mardut), for incestuous acts which were not criminal (Maim. ibid. 2:8). Occasionally, capital offenses were reduced to offenses punishable with flogging, as in the case of incest with one’s wife’s near relations after her death (ibid.)

Incest is a capital offense only where sexual intercourse has taken place (Shab. 13a), although complete penetration is not a required element (Maim. ibid. 1:10); but the prohibition to come near anyone of one’s “near of kin” was interpreted to render any bodily proximity, within the prohibited degrees of kinship, punishable with flogging (Maim. Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 21:1) – except kissing or embracing one’s mother, daughter, sister, or aunt, or such other relatives who do not normally arouse the sexual urge (ibid., 21:6; and see *Sexual Offenses). The offense of incest is committed by the female as well as by the male participant (Yev. 84b; TJ, Sanh. 7, 9, 25a; Ker. 2:4; Maim. Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 1:1); but where the offense is committed upon an infant or upon a person asleep or by a person unaware of the incestuous relationship, only the initiator of the act is punishable (Ker. 2:6).

Each single act of sexual intercourse amounts to a complete commission of the offense (Maim. ibid. 3:12). The turpitude of this kind of offense is stressed in the Bible by such epithets as “wickedness” (zimmah, Lev. 20:14; Ezek. 22, 11), “corruption” (tevel, Lev. 20:12), “shame” (ḥesed, Lev. 20:17), and “impurity” (niddah, Lev. 20:21). Incest is one of the three cardinal offenses (together with murder and idolatry) which a man may not commit even in order to save himself from certain death (Sanh. 74a; Yad, Yesodei ha-Torah 5:2); nor in order to save another person’s life (Tosef. Shab. 15:17); nor can there be any justification for its commission on any medical grounds (TJ, Shab. 14:4, 14d; Pes. 25a). Opinions are divided among medieval scholars as to whether a woman, as well as a man, must choose to die rather than commit incest. Some hold that a woman, being the passive partner, may submit to incest rather than be killed (Rashi to Yoma 82a; Isserles, YD 157:1 and cf. Tos. to Av. Zar. 54a), while others maintain that she should prefer death (ET, 6 (1954), 110). It is also maintained that the female’s enjoyment is tantamount to the male’s action (Tos. BK 32a), constituting “an overt act” for which her punishment is flogging.

In the State of Israel there is no statutory prohibition against incest as such, but it is an offense, punishable with five years’ imprisonment, for anyone to have sexual intercourse with an unmarried girl below the age of 21 who is his or his wife’s descendant, or his ward, or who has been entrusted to him for education or supervision (Section 155, Criminal Code Ordinance, 1936). Apart from this particular provision, it would seem that sexual intercourse within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity described above is, indeed, left to divine punishment.

Pope John XII have taken his niece and his mother as mistresses

In the 10th century, Pope John XII is said to have taken his niece and his mother as mistresses. Despite anthropologists insistence that the incest taboo is fundamental to human nature, clearly people have been at it forever. Freud famously argued that everyone’s first sexual desires are directed toward their family, while Melanie Klein considers sexual relations between siblings to be virtually the norm. The real taboo is in mentioning that perhaps it is not a taboo at all. Historian Lloyd DeMause argues that incest is universal. He cites examples throughout the world and refers to the old Indian proverb (“For a girl to be a virgin at ten years old, she must have neither brothers, nor cousins, nor fathers”) as an example of how common incest has been. His examples are endless and worldwide: tribes who have sex dormitories where older adolescents initiate younger siblings into sex; households where parents incorporate the children into their sexual activity in one happy family orgy; fathers marrying daughters when the mother dies, and sons marrying mothers when the father dies. While I can’t verify every one of DeMause’s claims and references, clearly it gets darker than sitting on granddad’s knee. The recent case of the German couple, Patrick and Susan, who were separated as children and later met and fell in love, has made headlines. They’ve been together for nine years and have four children, three of whom are in care. He has served time in prison fighting for his right to love his sister. While my gut reaction is this is monumentally fucked up, why is it illegal? The obvious answer is that it increases the chances of passing down bad genes. But by that logic, everyone with a genetic condition should be outlawed from having sex–which is rude. In fact, the impetus behind the 1908 Punishment of Incest Act was just that–the proponents of the act were the same people who advocated the “sterilisation” of the “feeble-minded”. Siblings generally don’t fancy each other due to something call the Westernak effect: Being reared together forms non-erotic bondsIncest_Mom

Tips to Help Sexually Abused Victims Overcome Their Fear of Pap smears

Tips to Help Sexually Abused Victims Overcome Their Fear of Pap smears

Every two minutes someone in the country is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).  Victims of sexual assault or abuse are three times more likely to suffer from depression, as well as a host of other mental conditions. A new study also indicates victims are more likely to skip Pap smears.

In a study published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, researchers instructed volunteers to complete a survey on the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) website. The survey included closed questions on demographic characteristics and cervical screening attendance. Open ended questions included discussed barriers to screening. A content analysis was used to decipher the responses.

The results revealed only 49 percent of women who were abused as children underwent cervical screening compared to 79 percent of the general population.

“One way of coping with the trauma of sexual abuse is to control or avoid the triggers of trauma responses,” researchers wrote. “Intimate gynecological examinations can be particularly stressful for women who have been abused because of the parallels with the abuse situation, for example, perceived loss of control, the power disparity, and the physical sensation of the examination.”

Though the fear of reliving the feelings of shame, guilt, self-blame and feeling unclean, contaminated or dirty may inhibit victims of sexual abuse from undergoing cervical cancer screenings, it is imperative they do. Women who have been sexually abused are more likely to develop cervical lesions in addition to participating in risky behavior such as drug or alcohol abuse.

However, Sarah Kelly, training and development manager at the abuse survivors’ support association, was able to compose a list of steps successfully taken by sexually assaulted victims to improve their experience.

These tips include:

  • The survivor having time and space to talk about their fears and anxieties of having the test.
  • A friend or supporter being present during the test.
  • The smear taker having an understanding and insight into the issues of childhood abuse and the legacy of issues that adult survivors can face.
  • A discussion of words/responses which would trigger anxiety or flashbacks for a survivor and finding alternative ‘safe’ words to replace these. For example, many smear takers would tell the woman to try to relax during the test. The word ‘relax’ is often used by abusers and can be very frightening for survivors; an alternative is to agree a word in advance to use in discussions with the patient.
  • A private and comfortable environment for undressing and for the smear test to be taken.
  • A clear signal agreed beforehand for the woman to be able to halt the test if she needs to at any stage.

Read more at http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/12469/20121002/tips-help-sexually-abused-victims-overcome-fear.htm#ScqVg0xskQ1LOa8Y.99

Father-Daughter Incest

Father-Daughter Incest 

No matter how different are the perspectives from which the crime of incest is seen, analyzed and examined, the common denominator among all cultures throughout history is that incest is looked upon as the most repugnant, disgusting and sickening of all crimes. Father-daughter incest mustn’t be new to us, as countless stories of past times have also testified to its existence. Many victims at the time bore their poignant stories, but could never tell them.

Yet, the hypothesis that should be formed here is: If the father in these situations were religious in the right sense of the word, he would never think of sexually abusing his daughter, let alone rape her. It is not long ago when Mohamed El Aarifi, a Saudi Arabian sheikh, was scorned and harshly castigated for forbidding a daughter to wear tight clothes in the presence of her father for fear that she might tempt him into lusting after her.

In the Quran, Allah condemns and forbids the act of a father marrying his daughter, let alone the act of raping her. We all know this, but the matter lies not in knowing about the prohibition of father-daughter incest, but in the fact that our society isn’t religious enough, given that incest, which we, as responsible Muslims, must decry and do something about, is spreading in a dangerous manner.

For fear of falling into the sin of a father raping his daughter, the sheikh responded by saying that it is forbidden for a father and his daughter to stay in a secluded place when no one is present. The sheikh issued this fatwa by which many Muslims have been taken back on the basis of this hadith  of the Prophet: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman the Devil makes a third.” Hadith – Sahih Bukhari, Book 25, Number 5403.

Although the prophet here referred to a Non-Mahram man and woman (Non-Mahram in Islam refers to non member of the family), the sheikh feared that if the daughter is a beautiful one and no one is present, the father might be tempted by the third Devil into raping her.

What is of greater importance is that despite receiving harsh attacks on his fatwa, Al Arifi at the very least warned against the animalistic sexual desires under whose spell some fathers are in danger of falling. It is self-evident that because of the rarity of father-daughter incest in Muslim countries and because of associating this crime with an ignominious taboo, many Muslims have received the strange yet true fatwa with scorn and disdain.

Many of us have made fun of El Arifi’s statement and come up with scornful comments in protest of his fatwa. We have even begun to distrust the credibility of his fatwa. Many of us have even accused the sheikh of being inordinately fundamentalist and unreasonable. Upon the spread of his video, we instantly deemed him backward and foolish, though he was hinting at a threatening phenomenon tearing-apart homes, that of a father raping his daughter.

Now, however, we are facing the scandal the sheikh once warned about and to which he suggested that we take precautions before it is too late. With the heinous act of father-daughter incest, we remember that El Arifi was right on about what he said. If Arifi’s fatwa was preposterous, how would we account for the shameful phenomenon in question?

If the precaution to which the sheikh raised our awareness were silly and unspeakably strange as many Muslims have described it, how would we account for the number of daughters falling prey to their fathers’ sexually abusive advances?

We are rather blaming those who still consider the issue of incest as a taboo that many think should rather be sealed than be exposed. Among them are the attackers of El Arifi, the mother who resorts to calming down her violated daughter in many cases instead of taking the rapist father to the police and the society that still shamefully turns a blind eye to this thorny issue and does nothing viable as a reaction.

As long as Islam has said a lot about the issue, the only explanation for the spread of incest is not following and obeying the rules of Islam. Perpetrators of incest can rape anyone in sight for the simple reason that Islam, for them, doesn’t restrict them.

Furthermore, silence is the real catalyst to more cases of incest. So long as, we the society, do nothing to recompense the victims and set the strict rules and punishment decreed in the Quran, it will be not be surprising if other cases are reported just as those of the cities of Safi and Kenitra have been. Reporting and disclosing the issue outright can at the very least help decrease the frequency of the phenomenon.

Forbidden love

Forbidden love

It was a Friday night a few months ago. Rob was standing on my doorstep, ashen and trembling. He still couldn’t speak even as he sipped at a mug of tea after my flatmate and I had ushered him into our front room. We could not guess what had happened, but a feeling of dread was fast forming in our minds; we could only assume that something terrible must have happened to Rob’s fiancee, Karen. Gradually, his powers of speech returned and the story emerged. Something had happened, but that something was terrible to Rob himself, not Karen.

Now, you have to understand that Rob and Karen were the most balanced, wholesome couple I knew. They had recently moved out of their flat while it was being redecorated, each returning to their respective family homes for a couple of weeks. That Friday, she had left her keys at his place by accident. He was passing by her parents’ place later that night, so he stopped off and rang the doorbell.

No answer. So he let himself in to leave the keys, with a note, on the kitchen table for her mum and dad to return to her. Only, the house wasn’t empty – he heard some movement in the front room. In an instant, he blundered in on Karen – the woman he was due to marry – having sex. With her dad.

Not her stepfather. Not her adopted father. Her actual, biological dad. She was 22 years old. There was clearly no coercion taking place.

Three weeks passed. Rob had called off the wedding – obviously – and was trying to put his life back together. One morning, he got a call from Karen, asking if they could meet up to divide their mutual belongings, the accumulation of over three years’ cohabitation. He agreed.

Predictably, when they met, an argument began. “I don’t know why you think it’s so odd!” she screamed. “I know lots of people who do this.” That stopped Rob in his tracks. “Who?”

And it began to spill out: that she had made contact with lots of people over the internet (and consequently in person): boys, girls, fathers, mothers, who are sleeping with their kin. The internet is value-free: it doesn’t care or know whether you are selling a secondhand car or buying arms. If you want to get in touch with someone, it makes no moral distinction between anti-globalisation protesters and convicted paedophiles. So now there are chatrooms and websites that are de facto support groups for people engaged in incest. And what they want is to normalise what we have long considered to be profoundly abnormal.

It was on this basis that Karen said Rob was “overreacting” – she had insinuated herself into an online “community” of people who reassured themselves that they were not freaks. Rob and I spent a few nights gawping at the disguised but fairly developed pro-incest (or, to be more accurate, pro-tolerating incest) areas of the net in an attempt to understand Karen. The exponents of incest that we talked to in cyberspace were very keen to draw a distinction between “consensual incest” on the one hand and abuse, rape and paedophilia on the other. Consensual incest, we were told by “JimJim2” from Ontario, is “when two adults who just happen to be related get it on. You can’t help who you fall in love with, it just happens. I fell in love with my sister and I’m not ashamed … I only feel sorry for my mom and dad, I wish they could be happy for us. We love each other. It’s nothing like some old man who tries to fuck his three-year-old, that’s evil and disgusting … Of course we’re consenting, that’s the most important thing. We’re not fucking perverts. What we have is the most beautiful thing in the world.”

Voices in Action, a US support group for victims of incest, vehemently rejects these arguments: “These teens have been brainwashed into believing this behaviour is natural; it is not … Sexual abuse is learned behaviour.” But some political thinkers are prepared to support the distinction between abuse and consenting relationships. Dr Sean Gabb, a leading member of the Libertarian Alliance, a radical British thinktank, argues that “consenting incestuous behaviour is no business of the state. It is up to individuals to make their own decisions.” He has drawn attention to the “unjust” 1909 case of R v Ball, where a seemingly happy brother-sister couple who had been living as man and wife were “outed” and thrown into prison. He describes them as “harmless and respectable”.

Few other public figures are prepared to tread into this ethical minefield. One of the few who was brave enough to talk on the record is Brett Kahr, senior lecturer in psychotherapy at Regent’s College, London. He stresses that there is no proper research into this phenomenon, and wonders, “Who are we to say that Joe Bloggs and his sister Jane Bloggs aren’t having a perfectly good relationship and we’re all missing out?”

But he is also quick to qualify this. “In over 100 years’ worth of case studies I’ve looked at, I have never seen a single case of incest that has ended happily. I don’t know a single experience where an incestuous relationship has been positive.” He admits, however, that – by their very nature – psychiatrists don’t attract happy, functional people. For example, the couple in the case cited by Dr Gabb, whose court transcripts suggest they had a perfectly happy life, would never have come to the attention of a mental health professional.

Kahr, drawing on his experience as a practising psychotherapist, raises some pertinent questions about any incidences of seemingly “consensual” incest. “Even if, as in your friend Karen’s case, she did, as she claims, initiate sexual contact with her father, what was lacking in her relationship with him so that sexual behaviour seemed the only way to bridge it? She may have been behaving sexually because she had failed to attract attention in any other way.”

There is a surprisingly wide range of literature concerning incest for us to draw on when we try to understand the mindset of the participants. Consensual incest has been portrayed sympathetically in popular fiction for centuries, from John Ford’s masterful 17th-century play ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore to Ian McEwan’s novel The Cement Garden and Steven Poliakoff’s film Close My Eyes. The writer Kathryn Harrison caused a sensation in 1997 when she published The Kiss, a memoir of an affair with her father, and even in the popular medium of TV, from Jerry Springer (who has featured incestuous sisters on his show) to Brookside (which featured a love affair between siblings Nat and Georgia), incest has been depicted in a not unsympathetic, if somewhat salacious, manner.

So why is your stomach still churning as you read this? What is it about incest that makes it universally abhorred? The most obvious answer is the risk of producing severely deformed children. King Hatchepsut, an Egyptian pharaoh who was the product of an incestuous union between brother and sister, is considered by many Egyptologists to have suffered from birth defects. In Michigan in the mid-1990s, the state laws had to be reformulated to forbid “consensual incest” after two high-profile scandals. In both cases, the offspring of father-daughter relations had severe birth defects and several of the resulting babies died. All existing studies of inbred populations show that incest increases the rate of appearance of negative recessive genes.

We should, however, be wary of damning incest on these grounds alone. To prohibit two people from having sex because their offspring may be “defective” or “inferior” is to adopt the standpoint of a eugenicist. Indeed, Dr Sean Gabb has clearly shown that the impetus behind the 1908 Punishment of Incest Act was just that: the proponents of the act were exactly the same figures who advocated the “sterilisation” of the “feeble-minded”. If we prohibit incest on the grounds that it risks producing “defective” children, we must also prohibit reproduction by haemophiliacs and the carriers of a host of other “defects”.

In any case, we must acknowledge that, with the rise of contraception, we have succeeded in separating sex from reproduction. Another unashamed participant in incest discovered in a chatroom, “daddysgirl”, insisted: “We would never have a baby, it would be all screwed up and wrong. I use the coil.” So has a window opened for “safe” incest? And if so, is our visceral disgust just a remnant from a vanishing age?

· Some names have been changed.