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article imageOp-Ed: Incest, France and the world’s dirty little secret

By Michael Cosgrove     Apr 14, 2009 in Crime
Liberation carries an article today on the fact that much-needed legislation on incest has been delayed, again, in order to make time to vote a bill on internet copyright, viewed as being more important. Let’s hope it isn’t delayed much longer.
The French press and certain politicians have finally started asking serious questions about incest, its hidden prevalence in French society, and what steps should be taken to tackle it. These initiatives are to be applauded. However the decision to put back a proposed law to combat it, as reported by Liberation and other papers, is more than unfortunate, and it is sending out the wrong signals.
Around 1percent of French children are estimated to be victims of pedophiles unknown to them.
Around 13-15 percent of French children are estimated to be victims of incest or abuse by adults known to them.
I say ‘estimated’ because, quite simply, no official figures or thorough official studies of these phenomena exist. All there is to go on is uncorroborated data. And why is this? It’s because, quite simply, incest as such is not a crime as such here. Incestuous offenders here are not charged with incest, but with a slightly harder application of existing law on sexual offenders in general. So incest as such is not on the statute books. It is called a sexual offence and is classed as an “offence”, whereas pedophilia is “a crime.”
The proposed new law is designed to correct that situation and would create the specifically-named crime of incest.
Those convicted of sexual abuse of members of their family get much less time in prison than pedophiles. And that’s only when they do actually go to prison, which is far from always being the case. And it’s the same story in many other western countries to varying degrees.
Why is this?
It’s because this status-quo suits too many people, and it suits ‘respectable’ elements of society in particular. The “in-between” people. The unspoken category. They are euphemistically defined as “child molesters” or “child abusers” etcetera, and they are worse predators than pedophiles. They are much more common too.
This category includes many people who have regular professional contact with children, such as teachers, priests, educators, probation officers, summer-camp monitors. They all have in common that they know their victims, whereas “pedophiles” don’t, in many cases. I’ll call them “Incestophiles” for the purposes of this article. (There are also sub-groups here; for example, offending priests are more likely to be called called pedophiles in the press than teachers, and this for complex societal reasons).
Did you know that when incestophiles are caught, lo and behold, they get punished more severely than incestuous parents, but less severely than pedophiles? Incestophiles are the silent and missing link between incestuous parents and pedophiles. Knowing the victim makes them less guilty.
What is the difference between sexually abusing one’s own child and sexually abusing other people’s children in one’s care or under one’s authority? Moreover, what makes both these categories of offender less horrible than those who sexually abuse unknown children? After all, all victims suffer the same trauma, but incest and “incestophile” victims also have to cope with the fact that they can’t even trust those adults they are entrusted to afterwards, never mind unknown people. That is an added suffering.
Well, all this means quite simply that Western societies can’t judge these people as harshly as they do ‘pedophiles’, because, if they did, the whole house of cards would come crashing down, and sex-offending teachers, priests, educators, family friends, not to mention politicians, judges, magistrates and lawyers would all be judged as pedophiles as well, and they would go to jail for just as long.
That isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
So while we’re busy ignoring our little secret, up to 15 percent of western children are victims of pedophiles, and NOT 1 percent.
I prepared this article this afternoon and just googled “incest” for an image to put it up with it. You know, a blue ribbon or a poster from an anti-child abuse organisation or something. I was amazed to see that the results were full of porn images pulled from incest sites. None of the people in those photos were minors of course, but pigtails and lolita-style clothing were common, and the inference was clear. Intrigued, I then googled “pedophilia” images. Results? None.
So incest-centred pornographic material is even acceptable on Google!)
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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