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A Separate Section for Incest

With the government’s intention to have an additional section within the Penal Code to deal specifically with incest, the government has now formally recognised the fact that incest is distinctive from other forms of rape. However, section 376 of the Penal Code which deals with rape, and which incest is currently within its ambit, is insufficient. It does not deal specifically with other forms of grievous sexual assault like penetration by objects, penetration in other orifices of the body, aggravated rape, marital rape and gang rape. The dynamics of incest is quite different from that of rape. In the case of incest, there is a severe breach of trust involved. The victim is usually a child, and the violation may have occurred for a long period of time. The perpetrator is mostly someone quite close to the child. The impact of this is deep, often affecting the survivor through adulthood.

Harsher sentencing is important, and may serve as a deterrent factor to potential offenders. However, there are other aspects within the system that needs to be considered. There is a need to look into other areas of the law, such as the Evidence Act and the Criminal Practice Code when considering changes in the law regarding to incest. Also, police investigation and medical examination procedures have to be reviewed with consideration of the different nature of incest to rape. In addition, very importantly, the support system for victims and offenders have to be developed. Resources have to be allocated for counselling the victim to help he or she get over the trauma, the family of the victim, and the offender to help ensure that he will not repeat the offence. There is a need to conduct more study into this area and the women’s groups are currently looking into the matter.

Jaclyn Kee
Communications Officer

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