An accidental taboo
Once upon a time, in a few societies, no one batted an eye at relatives marrying each other. In fact, it was common practice. Royalty would do it to preserve their bloodline, like in ancient Rome, Japan, Egypt, amongst others. These days, most of us think of incest as revolting, even though you can go down a rabbit hole of messages boards full of people that support it.
Why do we abhor incest? Well The Westermarck effect is the idea that humans appear to become sexually disinterested in those with whom they spent most of their early life. Another major factor against mating with a close relative is the fact that there are high odds of their offspring having various congenital birth defects.
So basically, nature is telling us not to get physical with our family. But what if you didn’t grow up with your sibling but met them as a complete stranger, then fell in love? That’s what happened with this French couple. Now they’re fighting the law.
A Chance Meeting?
Over in France, Rose-Marie, now 46, and her brother Herve, 53, have a daughter named Océane. Well it turns out that neither adult new they were half-brother and sister when they met in 2006, because they were raised in separate foster homes.
The couple split shortly before Océane’s birth.
They only realized the dark side of their relationship while applying for a birth certificate for the baby in 2009. And in cases of incest, only one parent is legally allowed be listed on the birth certificate.
In 2016 a judge ruled that Rose-Marie’s mother’s name should be removed from the document since the “child’s incestuous origin should not be known to everyone.”
The mother appealed this and a separate court overturned that judgement in June of this year, ruling that both lines of descent could be shown on the certificate.
“Eight-year-old Océane has lived with her mother since birth. The father does not contest the mother’s parenthood and he does not appear to have kept any particularly close relationship with his daughter,” said the judges.
“Annulling the mother’s official recognition as a parent would have damaging consequences for the child,” they added.
The father’s lawyer, Catherine Besson, told Le Parisien: “It’s a happy decision for Océane. Herve, the father, was the first to say that if a parental tie were to go, it had to be his. He did not raise this child.”
It’s more common than you think
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In fact, genetic sexual attraction (GSA) is a documented phenomenon that describes incest between close relatives — such as siblings or half-siblings, a parent and offspring, or first and second cousins — who first meet as adults.
In Britain in 2008, a set of twins who were separated at birth. Then ended up meeting, falling in love, and getting married. Once they found out they were brother and sister, they had their marriage annulled.
Then in 2011, a couple were engaged and a month away from having a baby found out they were siblings when they introduced their parents. The woman was raised by their mother, and the man raised by their father and never knew the other existed.
Or you could take it one step further and marry your son AND daughter, like Patricia Ann Spann did before getting caught earlier this month.
Read more about the French couple here.
What do you think about GSA? Are these relationships wrong or is it more nuanced than that? SHARE this story and let us know your thoughts!