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The cruelty manChild welfare, the NSPCC and the State in Ireland, 1889-1956$
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Sarah-Anne Buckley

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087660

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087660.001.0001

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Incest and immorality

Incest and immorality

Chapter:
5 (p.152) Incest and immorality
Source:
The cruelty man
Author(s):

Sarah-Anne Buckley

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719087660.003.0005

Chapter Five looks at the ‘hidden’ Ireland, in particular the issue of incest and sexual immorality. In 1908, the Punishment of Incest Act was passed by the British parliament, and incest became a criminal offence in Britain and Ireland. In 1922, British legislation was amended, followed swiftly by legislative change in Northern Ireland. Yet in the southern State, these changes would not occur until 1995, with incest remaining a misdemeanour and cases continuing to be heard ‘in-camera’ up to this time. The reasoning behind this seventy-year lag is addressed in this chapter, particularly with regard to the treatment of sexuality and sexual ‘morality’ after independence. As will be demonstrated, attitudes to sexuality and gender would have a knock-on effect on the reluctance of the State to deal with issues such as sexual crime, and especially sexual crime within the family. For the NSPCC, allegations of incest or ‘immorality’ had always been a rationale for institutionalising girls, and for victims, recourse was limited and problematic. By utilising testimonies from the court records, this chapter demonstrates the absolute bind for victims of incest in Ireland, and the lack of alternatives and resistance available to them.

Keywords:   Incest, child sexual abuse, family violence, moral neglect, gender and childhood, working-class families, Carrigan Report, immorality and NSPCC

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