A judge recently ruled that sexual relations between cousins does not amount to incest. A man in such a relationship shares his experience At first, Kelvin Omolo thought it was just teenage fling. But when he hit 20 years, the feelings he had for his cousin surged.
“Six years ago at her 22nd birthday party, we made out. We both freaked out afterwards and didn’t speak for weeks,” he says. While growing up, they were not close and so he was shocked by what had transpired between them. “The tension between us was numbing.
So we met again with the intention of smoothing out everything to ensure it doesn’t recur,”Omolo says. What should have been just that turned into a confession session. Omolo ended up pouring his heart out vividly professing his unnatural affection for her.
“I thought she would be offended but all I saw, if I’m not wrong, was astonishment. And when I took her hand, I expected her to pull away, but she didn’t,” he says. Despite knowing that what they were doing was unacceptable, they went ahead and secretly started dating.
“We are both seeing other people to divert prying eyes because we know a storm would blow out if our families and friends found out,” says Omolo. Since they began dating six years ago, Omolo has been in five tumultuous relationships with other women.
“One of my exes thought that I was gay because I often didn’t want to get intimate with her. I know it is wrong, but I’m in love with my cousin yet I’m well aware that I will never openly show her to the world,” he says.
Even though the High Court ruled in favour of such relationships, to the chagrin of the society, Omolo is convinced that it is something that will never be fully given the green light.
“Our traditions are too rigid to permit such an abomination. Even though many people doing it in hiding, the reality is that it will never be right in the eyes of society,” Omolo concludes. High Court Judge, J A Makau, left tongues wagging when he ruled that sexual relations between cousins is permissible.
This was after a man accused of sexually abusing his 16-year-old cousin was arraigned in court accused of incest and defilement. “My understanding of the said Section 20 (1) is that if any sexual act takes place between two cousins, that does not amount to incest within the meaning of the provisions of Sexual Offences Act,” the judge stated.
Religious leaders and experts hold different views on the issue of cousins engaging in sexual behaviour. Sheikh Fuad Mahad says laws of the state and cultural traditions of a society may not complement each other and that explains the verdict.
“When it comes to religion, for instance in Islam, the Quran allows such relations. Allah himself has clearly outlined the dos and don’ts when it comes to marriage. In my faith, marrying your mother, sister or same sex relationships are sinful and attracts a vicious curse.
However, the same God has also ordained intimate relationships between cousins,” Sheikh Mahad says. Sheikh Mahad says that if the Bible is against such, then Christians should stick to their faith and do what is expected.
“The act of sexualising a blood relative is not only outlawed in most parts of the world, but it is also considered morally nauseating and blatantly deviant. And yet such acts happen in society now and again,” says Dr Ken Ouko, a sociologist.
Dr Ouko says that social deviation of this kind occurs when the family unit fails to reign in its own leaving its members in a free-for-all in terms of associative indulgences.
“In some cases, the perpetrators of such acts are familial black sheep who are already considered pariahs by the family unit and would engage in such deviant acts as a means of getting back at the family,” he says.
Such forms of repugnant deviance may also be explained by what he calls ‘Seduction-Rejection Hypothesis’ where a man encounters serial rejection by nearly every target of his seductive exploits and eventually turns to a trusted relative and later compromise what was originally seen as nothing, but nominal affection shared between relatives.
“Cross-relational sex as incest is sometimes may also occur as a result of personality-related deficiencies that cause one to become oriented towards perverse sexuality as opposed to conventional sexuality,” the doctor says.
Pastor Chris Munyasia says that sexual relationships between cousins depend on community’s moral values. “In the old Jewish customs, from Abrams lineage, they all married their maternal cousin as it is documented in the Bible’s book of Genesis,” he says.