Incest refers to sexual intercourse between persons closely related by blood or marriage as defined by law. Incest also applies in instances of legal adoption. What is important is the ‘family’ relationship.


What constitutes Incest?

According to law, incest is defined in situations where a person has sexual intercourse with another person who is related in any of the following ways:

Where the offender and the victim are directly descended from the other (that is father/daughter)
Where the perpetrator is the adoptive parent, adoptive grand parent, and the victim is the adopted child or adopted grand child of the other
The female, who is the victim, is the sister of the male by full or half blood or by adoption
The female is a descendant from either of them
Where the male is the brother of the female either by full or half blood or by adoption
Where the male is the son of the victim’s brother or sister (that is the nephew) by full or half blood or by adoption or is a descendant from either of them
Where the male is the son of her husband by another mother (that is a step son)
Where the male is, or is her deceased daughter’s or grand daughter's or mother's or grand mother's husband.

 

Example

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals.

The mother had migrated leaving her three daughters in the care of the father. The eldest daughter took on the responsibility of managing the household and did all the chores and looked after her father and sisters. But in addition she was forced to engage in sexual activity with the father. After some time he had sexual intercourse with the second daughter. To protect the youngest sister she complained to the Women’s and Children’s Desk at the police station. They arrested the father and filed action in court. He is now serving a prison sentence. The three daughters were placed in a children’s home.

 

Obtain a medical examination as soon as possible from an authorized medical officer. The medical officer has a duty to collect hair, body fluids, fibers and other evidence, if any. Medical officers have a duty to report any incident of suspected incest to the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) and Police.
Make a complaint to the nearest police station.
Report the incident to the National Child Protection Authority if the victim-survivor is a child below the age of 18 years.
Inquire whether the police station has a Women and Children’s Desk or ask for a woman police officer if you prefer speaking to a woman instead of a male constable. Make sure all details of the incident are covered.
Ensure that you read the statement before signing it.
In addition to taking a statement, police will collect physical evidence and take statements from witnesses if there are any.
The police interview may take several hours, depending on the circumstances of your case. Some questions may be intrusive, and the officer may go over the details of your attack several times. The extensive questioning is often justified by the need to get every detail down precisely, to make the strongest possible case against the perpetrator.
It helps to write down every detail you can remember, as soon as possible, so you can communicate the details to the police.
Certain organizations provide support through the reporting process. They can clarify your doubts and questions. Click to learn more about Service Providers Click to learn about Laws


Law on Incest

The law on incest is found in Section 364A of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 22 of 1995. Where a person has sexual intercourse with another person who is related in any of the following ways, it constitutes incest:

Where the offender and the victim are directly descended from the other (that is father/daughter)
Where the perpetrator is the adoptive parent, adoptive grand parent, and the victim is the adopted child or adopted grand child of the other
The female, who is the victim, is the sister of the male by full or half blood or by adoption
The female is a descendant from either of them
Where the male is the brother of the female either by full or half blood or by adoption
Where the male is the son of the victim’s brother or sister (that is the nephew) by full or half blood or by adoption or is a descendant from either of them
Where the male is the son of her husband by another mother (that is a step son)
Where the male is, or is her deceased daughter’s or grand daughter's or mother's or grand mother's husband.



The Limits of the Law on Incest

Only the act of sexual intercourse falls into the ambit of incest in Sri Lanka. Other forms of sexual abuse perpetrated by any of the persons in these relationships for example:

Sexual touching
Verbal seduction or abuse
Manual stimulation
Inappropriate intimacy
Tickling or touching a child’s genitals
Walking in on children while they are bathing or undressing

Will NOT fall under the crime of incest. Such acts are punishable under the law of grave sexual abuse or sexual harassment.

Click to learn more on Grave Sexual Abuse
Click to learn more on Sexual Harassment

The written consent of the Attorney General must be obtained for a prosecution for incest. This provision is meant to be a method of ensuring that other options (eg. counseling, removal to a safe place for a time) are also explored, and that prosecution follows a careful case assessment.