The term Incest would be familiar to a lot of us. It is defined as the act of being involved in sexual relations between people classed as being too closely related to marry each other. But, how many of us really have the in-depth knowledge of its laws applicable in India? In our Hindu term, the word Sapinda means being connected by the same body particle. If that exists between a boy and girl, they cannot marry. A Muslim man is not allowed to marry his mother or grandmother, his daughter or granddaughter, his niece or great niece, his aunt or great aunt. This is prohibited and considered as incestuous. Many of us know that South Indians often marry their first cousins but not their own sisters. Telugus have a distinction between first cousin marriages. Hence, in South India a few marriages take place out of incest but as it is their custom, it is not termed as incest. I have just given a vague overview for the above. A lot of other rules exist in our country regarding this subject. But what really matters is whether or not INCEST IS A CRIME IN INDIA. It is nowhere defined in our penal acts but if two people are involved in incest they can be penalized for other acts such as adultery, rape, etc.
What really happens to the women who have dealt with this against their will? Most of the times we have seen that the so called “Pride of the family” covers the scars a child goes through and can never get vocal about it. Generally, we perceive a criminal as a heinous face that would scare the living lights out of us. But who knew that criminals could also have a classy, well to do background mask also. In most cases, there have been instances of the pervert to be a father or the uncle. The women of the family remain mute due to pressures put by everyone else in the family. How can you impregnate your own blood? Does it not even pinch that one percent of your humanity? I have heard of many such instances and a few from the very close ones. Some have survived it without ever talking about it till they come to really trust somebody that much to pour their hearts out and the others could not even make it after a day or maybe months of the same menace. One such popular example which flooded the news was that of a father abusing his daughter for months and the mother kept mum about it (god knows why and how?). Later they poisoned their own kid and the only witness was the grandfather who brought this up in the court but the father was released as he validated by saying he has other children and they would get orphan if he was kept behind bars. That criminal still roams among us!
There are a lot of NGO’s functioning now solely to erase such crimes with effect such as RAHI, (Recovering and Healing from Incest), Tulir-CPHCSA (Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse), SNEHA, ARPAN, RAINN, etc. We need very strict laws against such animalistic acts. In a lot of foreign countries like UK, Germany, and the US, incest is considered as a deathly crime with punishment extending for 20 years or more.
It is not that everyone roams around oblivious about such acts. There are a lot of activists and the count keeps increasing. But aren’t we all expecting to open our daily news channels and to NOT hear more than half the headlines covering crime against women. How long can we be sympathetic and not empathetic?
Oishwaria Mukherjee, who hails from Kolkata, India, was born and brought up in Oman and is currently working for a consulting company in Kolkata. She completed her Bachelor of Commerce( B.com) degree from Ness Wadia College of Commerce, Pune, India. She is an optimist by nature and is passionate about educating, motivating and enabling herself and all those who know her to achieve self actualization . She loves to write and draw in her spare time.