Friday, March 02, 2007
Patrick is looking at me, clenching his fist, his body shaking, he’s saying nothing. Susan isn’t saying anything either and neither am I. Silence can be so agonizing and there’s so much tension in the air you could almost cut it with a knife. There we are just staring at each other.
It was a difficult interview for a story that couldn’t be more controversial.
Patrick and Susan are a couple and have four children. They are also brother and sister and that makes their relationship illegal under German law. Patrick and Susan didn’t even know of each other’s existence until Patrick was over 20 years old and Susan was in her teens. After their mother died, they lived together and eventually fell in love.
“We just want to lead a normal life,” Patrick tells me, when he finally does manage to speak during the interview. He and Susan appear to be afraid of the camera. I can’t blame them. We’ve come into their home, are shining powerful lights in their faces and asking them to put their whole lives out in the open for us. Lives that have been as tough as anyone could imagine.
“People harass us all the time and call us the incest couple. They have no idea who we really are or how it all happened,” Patrick says, and then he goes on to speak about the legal ordeal he’s been put through. He’s been to jail because of the relationship with his sister; and three of their four children have been taken away from them by German Youth Welfare Services. Now Patrick wants to take the struggle to get the relationship legalized to the highest German court.
Many other European countries lifted bans on incestuous love long ago, and there are interesting arguments on both sides of the equation. Those who feel the ban should be kept in place say incestuous relationships are far more likely to bring forth children with birth defects than relationships between people that are not siblings. But opponents of the ban say it is a violation of couple’s rights to sexual freedom.
Patrick and Susan don’t care about all the politics, they say.
“We really love each other a lot, and we never want to be without each other again. We’re living like a small happy family,” Patrick says. To them, in the end, that’s what it comes down to: He needs her, and she needs him…nothing more.
Click here to watch my report
From Frederik Pleitgen, CNN Berlin Correspondent
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