What is incest?

  • Incest is defined as sexual relations between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal or forbidden by custom.
  • Examples:
    • Between teenager and their parents, siblings, uncles, auntie and grandparents etc.
  • Incest is now recognized as a common type of sexual abuse. It is potentially damaging to physical, mental and social well being.

Who is at risk?

  • With increase in divorce rates, more children are at greater risk.
  • If a mother remarries, the stepdaughter who lives in the same house with them are at higher risk of sexual abuse by the stepfathers compared to their biological fathers.

What can I do if I am a victim of incest?

  • It is not your fault, you are a victim.
  • It is a punishable crime.
  • You need to inform a trusted adult (teacher, sister and mother).
  • It is never too late to tell.
  • Your body is your responsibility.

What will happen to me once the truth is known?

  • It is not your fault.
  • You are not responsible for the acts done. You are not alone, there are people who can help and protect you.
  • Share your problems with your trusted and responsible adult, friend, teacher and counselor.
  • If you do not get support, seek help elsewhere such as see your doctor.

For your safety you may be referred to:

  • Doctor
  • Police
  • Social worker.
  • Counselor
  • Emergency shelter or home if necessary.

What will happen to the offender?

  • Currently under Malaysian law there is no separate legal provision for incest. It is covered by Sections 375 and 376 (Penal Code) which is for rape.
  • Rape is sexual intercourse between man and woman who is not his wife and without her consent. Statutory rape is sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 years of age even if the girl consents.

Sentence : Minimum 5 years jail and a maximum 20 years jail and whipping.


What are the consequences of incest to the victim?

Significant number of victims suffer serious negative effects and may need therapy as they grow up.

Some of these serious negative effects are :

  • Inability to trust.
  • Fear of intimacy.
  • Depression.
  • Suicidal ideas.
  • Self-destructive behaviour.
  • Low self esteem.
  • Guilt and anger.
  • Alienation from others.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Personality disorder.

Traumatic experience without proper treatment can course for Port Stress Traumatic Disorder (PSTD)

Many incest victims do not report or even tell their parents about the incest. They are often hesitant that the offender will get into trouble e.g. put in jail. Mothers sometimes do not provide support to their abused daughters if the father or other offender is the breadwinner in the family.

Serious negative effects are more common if victims

  • Do not seek help
  • Do not get counseling and support
  • Are abused for a prolonged period.

It is important that incest victims get support and shelter.

For further information see Sexual abuse.


What are the support groups currently available in Malaysia?

Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Hargeet kaur a/p Basant Singh
Reviewer : Dr. Salmah bt. Nordin
: Dr. Norizzati Bukhary bt. ISmail Bukhary