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Incest

  • By: Yael Oberman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Incest is most generally defined as sexual activity between closely related persons and has been subject to taboo in almost every known society. It may occur between childhood siblings, between consenting adults, and in the form of familial sexual abuse. It is assumed that incest occurs more frequently than it is reported. Familial sexual abuse is the most frequently reported form of incest, although its actual prevalence is impossible to assess because of secrecy, shame, and fear of being blamed. Father-daughter incest is the most commonly reported form of sexual abuse in the family, while mother-son incest is the most infrequently documented.

Taboo against Incest

Historically, every known society has had a taboo against incest except under very specific conditions. Certain primitive societies permitted incestuous relations as ...

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