Is incest among adults a crime?
Is incest among adults a crime? While the precise behavior that is considered incest varies across different states and cultures, almost all societies consider some forms of incest taboo, and laws reflect those beliefs. In the United States, child sexual abuse is always a crime, and incest between adults is a crime in all but a few states.
What makes incest a crime? Generally, the law defines “family member” as someone so closely related to you that you cannot legally marry. You may wonder, “Why is incest a crime?” The main reasoning behind laws that make it a crime is that it causes harm to family relationships and that it can result in genetic defects in children.
How common is incest between adults? Its prevalence is difficult to generalize, but research has estimated 10–15% of the general population as having at least one such sexual contact, with less than 2% involving intercourse or attempted intercourse. Among women, research has yielded estimates as high as 20%.
Why is inbreeding illegal? The rationale behind California’s incest laws is to avoid bearing children who may be prone to serious birth defects caused by inbreeding. Sociologists contend that incest endangers traditional family structure.