As of 2007 there were nine states that had no explicit law in regards to necrophilia. And as recently as this summer, Illinois pushed a law governing the taboo topic with a vote 114-0 in favor of, “Creating the offense of abuse of a corpse. Providing that a person commits the offense if he or she intentionally engages in sexual conduct with a corpse or involving a corpse”. The penalty could be up to seven years in prison; it goes into effect January one, 2013.
Interestingly enough there is no current federal law governing the topic either. In other words, the state you live in determines whether you get off the grotesque act scott-free or (in the case of Nevada) spend the rest of your life in jail. In Iowa, the act is a class D felony with a potential five-year jail sentence.
My question is why is this such a polar issue with seemingly unclear punishment? Let alone taboo.
I think the answer lies within the moral philosophy of whether or not dead bodies have “rights”. According to all state laws, acts of sexual deviance are only governed for living bodies that aren’t classified as “human remains”. According to most law, it is a victimless crime. Albeit probably the endgame of insults.
One might state that it is obvious that this should be illegal, but upon closer inspection it becomes more convoluted. The seemingly only “victim” of the act is the unlivable terror that might be caused to the family of the deceased. But should an act of extreme insult be considered criminal? I have even heard people go as far as to say that it’s just another fetish.
Obviously those that are more religious might be more inclined to demand for a greater punishment. Even though the supposed soul of the deceased might no longer be with the body, it still could be taken as a desecration to the soul in heaven. At least that is my assumption on the religious. This sort of logic (thinking?) would be impermissible in the legal system as it is religious. Although, “unnatural intercourse” is illegal in Mississippi — take that as you will.
Dr. John Troyer from the University of Minnesota, specializing in “technologies of the human corpse”, says: “Human corpses and the laws that govern the use of dead bodies are uniquely positioned to cause legal discrepancies since the dead body is a quasi-subject before the law. This creates a constant problem where the deceased body is no longer a living person and therefore not covered by the laws that regulate sexual deviance.”
He goes on to say: “I’m not proscribing more robust law enforcement but it certainly begs the question – how willing are people to examine the legal rights of dead bodies and the sexual desires of individuals deemed ‘human deviants?’” This is the question I pose to you.
My stance on any issue is that insults cannot be criminalized. Offense cannot be given, only taken. I also agree that in the eyes of the law, necrophilia is a victimless crime. But, with emphasis, the amount of psychological damage a family or friend might undertake upon learning of such atrocity to their deceased loved one only warrants some level of punishment — or at least attention.
Minimally, the supposed necrophiliac should undergo psychological evaluation. If this person is found sane, then I believe a hefty fine should be put in place, based on the percentage of their income. Jail time should exist, but only for minimal terms (no more than 5 years) that increases per repeated offense. The sentencing would also include the prohibition from employment at morgues, graveyards, and the like.
Why do I find this topic necessary to talk about? It is because I don’t like the fact that circumstances in America exist where someone could either be put to prison for life or walk the streets only labelled a creep, simply on the basis of where someone lives.
“To legislate against this kind of abject behaviour means acknowledging its existence, which some authorities may find difficult to deal with”, says Dr. Troyer, which means breaking the taboo will allow for public discourse of a seemingly controversial topic.