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Thread: German Brother and Sister Challenge Incest Laws

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    Thumbs Down German Brother and Sister Challenge Incest Laws

    Brother and sister fight Germany's incest laws

    27 February 2007 01:52

    A German brother and sister are challenging the law against incest so that they can continue their relationship free from the threat of imprisonment.

    Patrick Stübing, an unemployed locksmith, and his sister Susan have had four children together since starting a sexual relationship in 2000. Three of the children are in foster care, and two have unspecified disabilities.

    The couple, who live near Leipzig, grew up separately and only met many years later. Their supporters say they will fight until incest is no longer regarded as a criminal offence, arguing that the law is out of date. They say it harks back to the racial hygiene laws of the Third Reich and should be overturned in favour of freedom of choice and sexual determination. Detractors insist that incest should remain a social taboo, largely because of the risks linked to inbreeding and the imbalance in social relations it inevitably causes.

    A film and a book are planned about the Stübings, who remain defiant about breaking one of the few remaining sexual taboos in Western society.

    Stübing (30) has spent over two years behind bars for having sex with his sister and faces another prison sentence if paragraph 173 of the legal code is not overturned. His sister has never been imprisoned because she has always been tried as an adolescent.

    The couple were born into the same family but Patrick was already living apart from his mother when his sister was born. After a life spent in children's homes, Stübing was reunited with his mother, Annemarie, in Leipzig in 2000, when he met his sister for the first time. Six months after the reunion, their mother died of a heart attack.

    The siblings fell in love, and their son Eric was born in 2002, followed by Sarah, now four, Nancy, three, and Sofia, one. Two of the children are known to have disabilities, although it is not known whether they are a result of inbreeding, or because they were born prematurely. All the children except Sofia have been taken into foster care. Mr Stübing has since been sterilised.

    Speaking to a German newspaper, Mr Stübing said the couple decided to have more children after the authorities took their first-born away. "The younger children might not have been born had they not taken the first one from us," he said. "We just want to make sure that we don't lose everything again."

    Ms Stübing shook her head when asked if the couple felt guilty about their relationship. "No," she said. "I just want us to be able to live together."

    Addressing the issue of two of the children's disabilities, Mr Stübing would only say: "It's true that Eric has epilepsy, but otherwise everything's fine with him."

    "Our aim is to get paragraph 173 abolished," Ms Stübing said. "And I would like to have my children back again."

    Germany's courts have not doubted the earnest nature of the relationship. But in German law sex with a close relative is forbidden and punishable by up to three years in prison.

    Endrik Wilhelm, the couple's lawyer, said they had little choice but to fight the existing law. "It's clear, if you face jail, and the only way you can prevent this is by overturning the law, that's what you will try to do," he told the Guardian.

    He said that the couple were causing no harm to others. "Everyone should be able to do what he wants as long as it doesn't harm others."

    Incest is not illegal in many of Germany's neighbouring countries, he said. The law was a "historical relic".

    Napoleon abolished France's incest laws in 1810. Neither is it a crime in The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Portugal or Turkey. Japan, Argentina and Brazil have also legalised it in recent years.

    Incest is forbidden in Britain, where the law was extended in 2002 to include not just those with blood ties, but also step-parents and their children and in cases of adoptions.

    But opponents of changing the law say it exists for a good purpose.

    "When siblings have a child together, there is only a 50% chance that it will be healthy when it is born," said Jürgen Kunze, professor of human genetics at Berlin's Charite hospital.

    Germany's constitutional court is expected to decide on the Stübings' appeal in four to six weeks' time.
    Source
    Last edited by Aeternitas; Friday, March 9th, 2007 at 08:04 PM. Reason: request.

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    Thumbs Down Re: German brother and sister challenge incest laws

    Blood ties

    Aida Edemariam and Kate Connolly

    06 March 2007 11:59

    In public, at least, they seem remarkably unfazed by what they have done. And in some senses, of course, they needn’t be. They are a loving couple, who have been together for seven years and want to be with no one else. They have had four children. Beyond these details, however, the story gets more troubling. Patrick and Susan Stubing, who live in Zwenkau, near Leipzig, Germany, are brother and sister. Two of their four children have developmental problems, and all four have been taken into care. Patrick (30) has served more than two years of a prison sentence for incest. Asked if she felt guilty about this breach of one of the last taboos, Susan (22) simply shook her head and said: “No, I just want us to be able to live together.”

    Their case is raising much prurient speculation in Germany, not least because their reaction to the threat of further imprisonment for him has not been apology and shame, but defiance -- an attempt to overturn paragraph 173 of the German legal code, which forbids sex with a close relative.

    What has been discussed less, is that the Stubings seem to be a textbook example of a phenomenon called genetic sexual attraction (GSA). It occurs between blood relatives who have been separated for most of their lives, and meet in adulthood; it has been known to happen in all sorts of permutations -- father/daughter, birth mother/son, siblings -- even, occasionally, same-sex relationships between people who would not otherwise identify themselves as homosexual.

    Patrick had already been put in a children’s home in the then East Germany when his sister was born, the third of eight children, five of whom died. (Asked in an interview what the others died of, Susan simply shrugged her shoulders.) After a lifetime spent in and out of care homes and foster families, he finally found his mother in 2000, but she died of a heart attack six months later. Brother and sister -- neither of whom had known of the other’s existence before this -- had only each other for comfort.

    But it would probably be fair to say that there would have been more to it than grief. Those who experience GSA speak of what they feel in terms we all recognise as romantic ideals of perfect love.

    “As we looked at each other over lunch, it was as if a light was turned on. Something had happened which was difficult to control,” Tony Smedley told the London Daily Mail in 2003, a week after he was found guilty in court of having an incestuous relationship with his half sister, Janet Paveling. “It was terrifying,” Paveling said. They spoke of feeling like mirror-images of each other: “Watching her was like watching myself,” said Smedley. “We have the same colouring, the same skin and even the same distinctive triangle of dark-coloured freckles near the thumb on our right hands. Whatever was happening seemed awesomely powerful. When we made love it was very moving. Very intimate. Nothing could stop us. I know it’s disturbing but it felt right.” Janet added: “Each day we fight the impulse to be together. It has been like an obsession. We feel complete only when we are together.”

    “They are strangers, they can very easily be attracted to one another,” says Gwen Richardson, who runs Searchline, a company dedicated to helping people to find lost relatives. She knows that sexual relationships have sometimes then developed. “You get a worrying phone call” -- about a mother and a son, for example -- “the mother, obviously, was married, and the marriage broke up.” Or a half-brother and sister. “They were living together and one of the neighbours found out, and they had to split up because they would have been prosecuted. It’s a subject that comes up as a by-product of what we do. We don’t set out to get a mother and a son together, other than, you know, as mother and son.”

    There is more going on than simple attraction between strangers. “It was something to do with recognition. It was like kinship, the proof you’re finding each other. It was just mutual, unspoken,” said a respondent in one of the only scientific studies conducted of the phenomenon, by Dr Maurice Greenberg and Professor Roland Littlewood of University College London, published in The British Journal of Medical Psychology in 1995. They were surprised to find that more than 50% of people who sought post-adoption counselling “experienced strong sexual feelings in reunions”.

    These days people are often warned this might be a possible reaction before they meet blood relatives, yet, except for the occasional memoir -- such as Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss, which is an account of the author’s incestuous relationship with her own father -- it is rarely talked about in public.

    Harrison wrote in spare present tense of the sexual affair she had with her father when she was 20 and he had just come back into her life. “My father looks at me, then, as no one has ever looked at me before.’’ And elsewhere: “In years to come, I’ll think of the [first] kiss as a kind of transforming sting, like that of a scorpion: a narcotic that spreads from my mouth to my brain. The kiss is the point at which I begin, slowly, inexorably, to fall asleep, to surrender volition, to become paralysed. It’s the drug my father administers in order that he might consume me. That I might desire to be consumed.’’

    The term “genetical sexual attraction” seems to have been coined by a woman called Barbara Gonyo, who was taken aback by the lust she felt when she was reunited with a 26-year-old son she had given up as a baby. The relationship was never consummated, because he did not reciprocate, and the feelings faded when he married. But she wrote a book about it in which she suggests, wrote Alix Kirsta in The Guardian three years ago, “that romantic love and erotic arousal may be the delayed by-product of ‘missed bonding’ that would have normally taken place between a mother and her newborn infant, or between siblings had they not been separated by adoption. Many such people, as adults, need to go through that early missed closeness. It may become sexual, or it may not.”

    There is certainly something childlike in the way the Stubings relate to each other. A reporter who recently organised a clandestine meeting with the couple found them sitting side by side on a bed in a motorway hotel. Much of the meeting was characterised by the couple’s shoulder-shrugging, Susan Stubing’s obsessive nail-biting and anxious glances towards their media adviser. When questions were not directed at her, Susan, who dropped out of school at 15 with no qualifications, turned her pink pumps in circles like a child. At one point, the adviser told her: “Take that chewing gum out of your mouth.” It is clear, say those who have met them, that the couple need looking after, which is one reason why, according to youth workers, their children have been taken away.

    They are also far from being media-savvy. Their lawyer, Endrik Wilhelm, says they have been “overwhelmed” by the interest in their story. Many of their statements, such as “we just want to get rid of paragraph 173” sound rehearsed, and it is unclear just how much they understand about the situation in which they find themselves. When Susan became bored with the newspaper interview, she poked her brother on the back of his feet with her toes. He took her hand tenderly, as if comforting a child, and the interview was brought to a swift close.

    When relationships such as this do become sexual, they tend greatly to complicate knee-jerk assumptions about abuse and incest: “There is no force, coercion, usually no betrayal of trust,” Greenberg told Kirsta. “And no victim. If sex occurs, it involves consenting adults.”

    So far as we know, this seems to have been the case with the Stubings, though Susan was very young -- 16 -- when they met, one reason why she has not yet been prosecuted. (Described as “slow” by her carers, she became pregnant for a fifth time when Patrick was imprisoned, by a 49-year-old man who described himself as her boyfriend. Their child, Safira, born in 2006, now lives with her father.) Many sufferers -- if that is the right word -- of GSA do not see it as incest at all, while at the same time they might be horrified by any suggestion of a sexual relationship with a member of their adopted family.

    The Stubings’ lawyer insists that the main scientific arguments behind Germany’s existing law banning incest no longer hold. “Sociologically speaking, incest is not the cause of difficult problems in families, rather the consequence of them,” he says.

    “The risks of inheriting defects are as high as the chance of inheriting positive things,” he claims, pointing out that people with inheritable conditions are not forbidden sexual intercourse. He believes that, in a modern society, laws should be used only to punish “socially damaging behaviour”.

    What is unusual about the Stubings is the number of children involved. They may argue, through their lawyer, that they aren’t hurting anyone -- “everyone should be able to do what he wants as long as it doesn’t harm others” -- but it could be said that they have already harmed their children. Quite apart from two of them having developmental difficulties (it is not certain whether this is because they were premature or because they share so much genetic material), the fact that they have been taken into care, as Patrick was, means that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the whole cycle could begin again.

    In the meantime, Patrick has been voluntarily sterilised, in the hope of avoiding further prosecution. “It wouldn’t be easy,” says their lawyer, “but it would only have to be proved that they had slept together.” All the Stubings want, he says, is to be left alone. “They want to be a family -- to have that which was impossible to have in their own childhoods.”
    Source

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    Re: German brother and sister challenge incest laws

    I read about this pair on the BBC. It seems to me they should be allowed to marry and have children just as much as anyone else. I was upset that they were being prosecuted at all.

    Fascinating insights on GSA, though. Sounds like it needs more studying. There's grant money in that, I bet.

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    Re: German brother and sister challenge incest laws

    If they did not have children I would not care what they did with each other. I would not want to think to closely on it but there are many human practices that I do not want to think about the details.

    I just feel sory for the children . It seems like Susan Stubing may have devolopmental dificulties of her own. Weither this is enviromental or hereditary I could not say. Probably some of both. These two did not learn how to be parents and now their children will not have the opertunity to learn how to be parents from their biological parents. I just hope that the children are adopted so they can learn how a proper family works.
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    Re: German brother and sister challenge incest laws

    Quote Originally Posted by ladybright View Post

    I just feel sory for the children . It seems like Susan Stubing may have devolopmental dificulties of her own. Weither this is enviromental or hereditary I could not say. Probably some of both. These two did not learn how to be parents and now their children will not have the opertunity to learn how to be parents from their biological parents. I just hope that the children are adopted so they can learn how a proper family works.
    I only feel sorry for the loss-making German statutory public medical schemes, their paying members and the tay-payers that have to pay the bill for the Stubing's handicapped (or perhaps mentally retarded) offspring. Surely something like this would never have happened - and not been tolerated - in Nazi Germany.

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    Re: German brother and sister challenge incest laws

    Weren't all their children born with disabilities, thats what I heard. Isn't that also the outcome from incestual reproduction, which is also the main argument against it.
    Tired

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    Re: German brother and sister challenge incest laws

    this is sic , nothing else

    I would never kiss my sister

    it's against the nature -.-

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    Re: German brother and sister challenge incest laws

    In the federal republic "of Germany" the individual is made to understand that he should force himself against the society, against the will of the majority and even against existing laws criminalising incest.
    Last edited by Liberator Germaniae; Saturday, March 10th, 2007 at 09:21 AM.

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    Re: German brother and sister challenge incest laws

    These two should consider immigration to Arkansas. These fine points of relatedness and child disability are of less concern there. For instance, in Arkansas, if they were to divorce, the only legal question to consider is whether they would still be brother and sister.

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