Incest. France’s (and the West’s) Dirty Little Secret.
There are two things I dislike intensely in this life. One is cold showers, and the other is hypocrisy.
Cold showers are my problem, but hypocrisy is everyone’s, so I’ll write about that instead, and the fact that 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.
Around 1% of French children are estimated to be victims of pedophiles unknown to them.
Around 13-15% 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.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not small-minded and I know that what we call “incest” exists legally in some other cultures for various socio-cultural reasons, such as child marriages or sexual initiation by parents. I don’t agree with those practices but at least they are not considered as being a crime in those places or cultures in which they are legal. We have to live with this reality, even if I personally think we should lobby hard to try to change it.
Here in the west though, incest is illegal. I mean, it’s illegal, but not as illegal as pedophilia. And that is quite simply scandalous. Did you know that here in France pedophilia is considered in law as being a “crime”, whereas incest is merely classified as an “offense”? Did you know that those convicted of incest get much less time in prison (and that’s only when they do go to prison, which is far from always being the case) than pedophiles? And it’s the same story in many other western countries to varying degrees. Also, those involved in cases of familial sexual abuse within lower-class sections of society are much more likely to see themselves described as pedophiles than incestuous.
Why don’t we face up to this glaring hypocrisy?
We don’t face up to it 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 molestors” 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.
WHY IS THIS TOLERATED?
It’s tolerated because there are so many of them.
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 filthy house of cards would come crashing down, and sex-offending teachers, priests, educators, family friends, not to mention pedophile politicians, judges, magistrates and lawyers would all be judged as pedophiles as well, and they would go to jail for just as long, and-we-can’t-have-that-now-can-we!!!? Nope, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
So while we’re busy ignoring our dirty cowardly little secret, up to 15% of western children are victims of pedophiles, and NOT 1%.
I prepared this post 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. Incest is even, albeit in a more watered-down version, acceptable on Google!!!