Most of us know that incest is wrong, either through cultural conditioning or what appear to be innate evolutionary cues, yet some humans can’t seem to resist the urge to have sex with their relatives. In fact, since the DNA of every living human is 99.9 percent the same, it may be much more common than we think. Still, that doesn’t mean incest can be acceptable in any case. As we will see, breeding with a close relative can result in some dire consequences.
In 2013, court documents revealed one of the worst cases of child abuse in Australia and perhaps one of the worst cases of multi-generational incest known to the world. The family, who the court appointed the pseudonymous surname Colt, was discovered living in rural New South Wales following an anonymous tip that their children were not going to school.
Shortly after arriving, authorities discovered that about 40 people were living in squalor inside two caravans, two sheds, and several tents. The compound had no sewage system, running water, toilets, showers, or baths. Among the people living there were several children , who were filthy, and shy. Few of them were able to speak intelligibly, and almost all of them had fungal infections on their feet.
Genetic tests later revealed that all of the children, except for one 5-year-old girl, were products of incest, which was believed to have begun as many as 40 years ago. The children’s genes were traced to just one set of grandparents, who were brother and sister. Eight of the children’s parents were brother and sister, mother and son, or father and daughter, while the remaining six children were born from parents who were aunt and nephew, uncle and niece, half-siblings, or grandparents and grandchild. The children themselves had sex with one another from a very young age.
Most suffered from severe health problems, including malnourishment, speech and hearing difficulties, an inability to read or write, and urgent dental problems. One 15-year-old boy had walking difficulties and severe psoriasis. His speech was barely intelligible, he regularly soiled his bed, and he was learning at a kindergartner’s level. Two other 15-year-old boys who suffered from similar disabilities were found to have been completely neglected when it came to personal and dental hygiene. A 14-year-old girl who was underweight and unable to use toilet paper or a comb suffered from severe speech and sight difficulties. She was also unable to read or write, though she was perfectly capable of threatening to cut off a caseworker’s fingers. The remainder of the children suffered from similar problems .
In total, 12 children were removed from their parents’ custody and either placed in foster homes or treatment programs to address their sexual and psychological trauma. As of 2013, the mothers of the children had hired lawyers to fight for custody, while one of the mothers faced charges in court for procuring the removal of a child from care and recruiting a child for a crime.