Psychologist gives insight into rising cases of incest

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A couple of months ago, the social media was agog with the video of a 25-year-old lady, who was fighting her father for planning to remarry after the death of her mother many years back.

She was not just protesting because her father wanted to remarry; she was fighting because her father is the love of her life.

According to her, her father deflowered her and started sleeping with her when she was 17, and ever since then, she had never known any other man but her father. She was heartbroken to discover that her father was planning to remarry after he had frustrated four different men who wanted to marry her.

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The lady openly told her father that both of them would live like husband and wife and raise children and even swore that as long as she was alive, her father would never get married to any other woman.

Just as Nigerians were trying to come to terms with such a bizarre public show of shame, another viral video of a woman who has been sleeping with her son and wanted to stop the evil act also hit the social media space.

The woman, who identified herself as Mrs. Nweze, got tired of sleeping with her son identified as Obinna, and wanted to quit the act. According to her, the son deceived her into the act. He told her that he was into a particular line of business which demanded that he either slept with her to witness progress in his business or he would die.

According to the woman, out of love for her son and since he didn’t want her son to die, she gave in to his amorous demand and started sleeping with her son, but after several years of the incestuous act, her husband found out and walked away from the marriage out of shame, anger and frustration. She sought help to reconcile with her God and family as she also had two other sons who were angry and ashamed of her actions as well.

Of course, in 2022, the story of a woman, Matina Agawua, who lured her own son to bed just to get pregnant for her husband in Nasarawa State, is still very fresh in mind. Matina lost her first husband and father of her first son to herdsmen attack in Benue State.

According to the report, she remarried after many years but had difficulties having a child with her second husband, James. After six years of marriage with no child, coupled with pressures from her mother-in-law, and threat by her husband to marry another wife, she decided to have sex with her own son from her first marriage to see if she could have a child for her second husband.

Over the years, sexual activity between two closely related individuals has been on the increase and has become a very big source of worry to many people.

Sexual intercourse between father and daughter, mother and son or brother and sister, which ordinarily should be a taboo and abomination, has become so rampant in Nigeria such that daughters are getting pregnant and bearing children for their fathers, just as mothers are equally getting pregnant and bearing children for their sons. Sisters get pregnant for their brothers, just as uncles sleep with their nephews without let or hindrance.

In July 2023, a 46-year-old man, identified as Jude, was arrested by the police for allegedly impregnating his two daughters in Ikwa community, Zuba Chiefdom, in Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

According to a neighbour identified as Idris, the incident came to public domain after one of the daughters reported the matter to her fiancé who was a police officer in Minna, Niger State. Before the arrest, the accused father was alleged to have connived with his wife to abort the pregnancies.

“In fact, when the man was taken to the police station, his wife was trying to cover up the matter, but her daughters opened up and told them how their father had been sleeping with them and how they aborted their pregnancies,’’ the neighbour narrated.

Also in March this year, men of the Ogun State Police Command arrested 43-year-old Abiodun Oladapo, who allegedly impregnated his 19-year-old daughter.

Oladapo, who was arrested following a complaint lodged at Mowe Divisional Police Headquarters by Oluwatoyin Idowu blamed the devil for his action.

The victim, who was five months’ pregnant at the time, confided in the Police that her father was responsible for her pregnancy. She said her father had been sleeping with her since February 2022, with a threat to kill her if she informed anybody about it.

Sexual relation between father and daughter, son and mother, sister and brother or closely related persons is considered a taboo and abomination; every culture abhors it. Just as God punishes culprits, humanity equally metes out heavy punishment to offenders, ranging from imprisonment, to banishment or outright pronouncement of death sentence in some climes.

However, despite the divine and societal punitive measures against offenders, it seems the ignoble act is on the increase. The practice has become so alarming and rampant that many women have had babies for their fathers, while others have secretly had a series of abortions with their fathers.

In trying to explain what could be responsible for this immoral and shameful act, a Consultant Psychologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr Leonard Okonkwo, while speaking to DAILY POST expressed the view that one needs to first understand that sex is instinctual.

Sex, according to him, is something that is biological but regulated by norms.

“So, people grow to learn different ways of responding to sexual instinct,” he explained.

Drawing inference from the psychoanalytic theory, he said a female child is closely attached to her father at age three or thereabout and if the father does not handle this attachment very well, he might tend to reciprocate.

“And his attempt to reciprocate,” he continued, “would lead to amorous affairs between the two.”

Explaining the theory in detail, he said: “This theory talks about different psychosexual stages of development. There is a stage when there is a kind of attachment between father and daughter; about the age of three.

“At that stage, there is a growing attachment between father and daughter. It is called the electra complex. If the father, who is more mature does not know how to handle such a situation, because like I said sex is biological, cognitive and psychological, he begins to reciprocate that special attachment and that can now grow to become Eros or romantic.”

He also attributed the latest development to abandonment of the earlier gregarious living pattern to the present individualistic living styles.

This, he said, has made it possible for a man to defile his own daughter serially without the knowledge of a third party.

He said: “Sex has to do with societal norms; you grow to respond to it differently through the learning processes. Society places certain boundaries on individuals’ behaviour, if not, a lot of wrong things will be going on. Incest is not limited to our generation. It has been there all the while; for instance, the case of Lot and his daughters in the bible.

“So, societal restrictions have been a check on incest but you will agree with me that over the years, there has been an eroding of these societal norms.

“Cultural values are becoming weaker and weaker and people are beginning to live more individualistic lives. So, they are left to their own judgement, thinking and approach.

“For instance, in those days when people lived in the midst of other people and family members, people came in and went; everybody knew what was going on with the other person and things like that served as a check for some of these restrictions placed by society. But, you can see that some of these restrictions are getting weaker and weaker; people live more and more individualistic lives. They live on their own without any check and that gives them the opportunity to commit incest without let or hindrance.

“Of course, there is a law that forbids it but then, who is the law? The law enforcement agents, the police, will not be going from house to house to check for people who are sleeping with their daughters unless there is a complaint. And where are the people that will complain? They are no longer there because people live individualistic lives nowadays.”

He also attributed the scourge to the erosion of societal norms in preference to the western culture and encouragement of fantasy, which makes the offenders think there is nothing wrong with what they do.

He said: “Another factor responsible for this immorality is the eroding of societal norms. There is also a lot of encouragement of fantasy; people thinking in the realm of fantasy. That, alongside the kind of movies that abound, has greatly encouraged the act.

“Many of these things make it look like there is nothing wrong with the act, particularly the ones coming from the western world. That’s why you find an upsurge of pornography for instance. You find that it is the most visited site on the internet and in many of these pornographic sites, you find these things happening between father and daughter, creating the impression that it is enjoyable, so fantastic and probably something worth experimenting.

“Also, making it look like there is nothing wrong with it. That encourages the instinct that is already there and they feel there is nothing there and of course it is worth doing.”

But if fantasy makes offenders think that what they do is right, why do they hide doing it?

Dr Okonkwo further explained that “even though fantasy misleads them to believe there is nothing wrong with the act, their conscience still tells them that it is wrong; besides there is a law against it. It is criminal and when they are caught, they will be punished.”

He also looked at the emphasis on sexual freedom. This, he said, “has not helped matters; but you then ask if that is the case, why is everybody not doing it if they are common?

“The issue of sexual freedom being propagated by some groups today has also accounted for why homosexuals are bold enough to come out in the open to say they have the right to do that.”

Dr Okonkwo added: “Homosexuality didn’t start today; it has been there. It is an age-long practice and all the while, it has been a condemnable practice but it started gradually with people coming up to identify and fight for their rights.

“There was a time homosexuality was listed in the international classification of diseases as a form of mental illness but it is no longer there because of the strength of lobbying by the gays and their societies.

“So, who knows one day people might start coming out to push for the right of fathers to sleep with their daughters. But like I said, it is a criminal offence; you can’t come out to say I do it. If you come out, you will be caught and prosecuted; so it is not something people can come out and say we are doing it.”

Although some men were known in the past to have slept with their daughters under duress, very many women willingly do it with their fathers.

Some women who are legally married also sleep with their fathers.

To this category of women, Dr Okonkwo said: “First of all, you must understand that these things happen mostly with minors. So, first and foremost, whether it is by consent or not, it is rape.

“However, it is complicated for those who willingly do, but you know, it started when they were young. That was what I told you about the attachment that happened along the psychosexual stages which if not properly handled, could lead to fixation. And then it continues like that.”

But has this shameful act anything to do with mental sickness?

He said: “Well, when you come to that, you ask: what is mental illness? Mental illness is abnormal behaviour. Any behaviour that is not normal is abnormal.

“So, do you consider a man sleeping with his daughter or a woman sleeping with her son normal? No, it is abnormal. So, if it is not normal, then the person needs help. It is not all mental illness that is insanity.

“But, there are issues that have to do with behavioural abnormalities, particularly when there is an uncontrollable urge to act in a particular way that is not normal, then you need help; it is an abnormal behaviour.”

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