“A Hidden Sin” By Afsheen Aman


In February 2004, it was reported in the newspaper from Islmabad that “A 60-year-old man shot and killed himself on Wednesday after a court sentenced him to eight years in prison for raping his daughter.” This is a horrible case of incest. These kinds of cases occur frequently in Pakistan and most of them remain unreported. Incest is considered a taboo in the majority of current cultures. It is any sexual act between people who are closely related. Incest results from a breakdown in the family and creates emotional isolation, stress, confusion about family roles and boundaries, guilt and a host of other symptoms. In some cases, two consenting adults are involved. The sufferers of incest do not report it and so this is increasing in our society.
According to Terzieff (2004) “Eight rapes are reported every day in Pakistan, a country of 147 million”. So these issues of incest are a real significant feature of our society, which needs to emphasize so that people become conscious of this and the victims can get justice.
In history incest has remained a great issue of concern. At the time of ancient civilization incestuous marriages were the part of Egyptians history. In the Pre Roman Egyptian period, royal families followed the tradition of hypergamy. The king’s daugter was not allowed to marry beneath herself because that was considered to be degrading for her. Thefore, the royal princess usually got married with her royal brother and if not, then she lived her whole life without a spouse.
There are several forms of incest that should be discussed so that awareness in the public could be enhanced. First is parental incest, which is between parents and their children. Child-therapist Susan Forward calls parental incest, as "Perhaps the cruelest, most baffling of human experiences" as it "betrays the very heart of childhood â€" its innocence". Parental incest is the one which greatly impacts on the psychological life of a person and violetes the child’s personality. Second is sibling incest between the brothers and sisters. It occurs with similar age brothers and sisters. It can destroy the sibling bonds. One probable cause for sibling-to-sibling incest is unmet needs because of dysfunctional parents or parenting. As humans, our psychological needs have to fulfill. Our psychological needs are love and belonging, power, freedom and fun. If any of these desires are not met completely, then a person may move towards a path, which can be offensive. Third one is adult incest. This is between an adult and a related child and this one is the most prevalent form of child sexual abuse. The other one is covert incest or emotional incest. Covert incest means having no sexual contact but abusing a child by actions or gestures.
Incest effects badly on one’s physical, psychological and social well being. People, who experience violence, live their entire life as a victim. Incest affects a child whole belief system. The child mostly blames himself or herself. Addiction, eating disorders, self-mutilation and suicide attempts are also common. Beside this, inability to concentrate, tamper tantrums, isolation, fear of the dark, sever weight gain or weight loss, inappropriate sexual behavior, chemical abuse, posttraumatic stress disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases are also common physical symptoms in the victims of incest. It greatly effects psychological side of a person and leads towards fear, helplessness, guilt and embarrassment, isolation, betrayal, irritation, grief and nightmares. In the long term the child can also suffer from depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, dissociation from feelings, relationship problems, self-destructive behavior, parenting problem and panic attacks. Socially it creates alienation within the person and the victim tries to remain alone and avoid social gatherings. The victim avoids trusting anyone.
The laws regarding incest are present in our country and every religion has declared it as a forbidden act. In NewYork State, close-blood-relation incest is a felony with a maximum penalty of four years in prison. The laws are present to support the victims of incest but there are few things due to which these cases are not bring forward. First is the victims are said to compromise and to remain silent. Other is the lawyers who deny taking such cases. According to an advocate Khalid (2004) “Officials at all levels of the criminal justice system are not willing to prosecute the matter in the criminal courts and prefer to settle the issue through compromise in the family”. The women protection in Pakistan act is one of the essential steps to enhance and protect women rights and freedom.
It is recommended that the government should not take these cases lightly and immediate interventions should be taken. People should be provided with awareness. Further, the victims of incest should be given particular attention and institutes should be formed to support such victims.
These matter of incest have not been resolved yet. The incest taboo remains something of a mystery. These issues are still taking place in our society but remain concealed because the sufferers remain quiet. Incest is an offense and the person who commits it, is a sinner. It could be called as a world’s greatest and most painful secret. It has become an unspoken cultural tradition in many families. No one asks for it. No one discusses it. No one complains about it. Lets not put our heads in the sand. We do have a very serious trouble of incest in our country. Because of our silence, many children are being spoiled psychologically and physically.

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