French Gov't Launches 'Fight Against Incest,' Mulls 'Clear Ban' on Incestuous Relationships
15:51 GMT 12.01.2022 (Updated: 19:29 GMT 03.11.2022)
One in 10 French people claim to have been the victims of incest, according to a poll conducted by Ipsos in November 2020. Such surveys over the years show the number of those to have purportedly suffered sexual abuse within their family as children or adolescents has tripled compared to 2009.
The French government has announced plans to ban incestuous
While incest is currently legal in France unless children are involved, Secretary of State for Child Protection Adrien Taquet said the government intended to criminalise such relationships even if both parties are over the age of 18.
“The law is to issue clear prohibitions in society: incest is prohibited… Whatever the age, you don’t have sexual relations with your father, your son or your daughter. It is not a question of age, it is not a question of consenting adults. We are fighting against incest. The signals must be clear,” Taquet was cited by AFP as saying.
In favour of a “clear ban," he added that he hoped the 18-year threshold for incest would be reviewed. Cousins would still be allowed to marry under the changed rules, while no clarification was offered regarding whether the proposed legislation would extend to stepfamilies.
Laurent Boyet, chairman of child protection charity Les Papillons, welcomed the move, saying that incest should be “legally forbidden” to the same degree as it was already “socially forbidden."
In 1791, incest, blasphemy, and sodomy were struck down from the French Revolutionary penal code as "victimless crimes" in line with the idea that if there's no victim, there's no crime.
France's 'Incest Scandals'
The subject of incest hit headlines last year amid a spate of scandals.
One of France's most prominent political commentators, Olivier Duhamel, 70, was accused of sexually abusing his stepson from the age of 14 in the 1980s.
Duhamel dismissed the “incest” allegations laid out in a book, “La Familia grande,” penned by his stepdaughter Camille Kouchner, as “personal attacks.”
Kouchner and her twin brother are children of France's ex-foreign minister, co-founder of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical charity Bernard Kouchner, and academic Evelyne Pisier, who died in 2017. After Kouchner and Pisier separated, she went on to marry Duhamel.
In the wake of the publication, Duhamel had resigned from all of his positions.
After opening their investigation of the academic for rape of a minor and sexual aggression on 5 January, prosecutors in France revealed in June 2021 they were dropping it because the statute of limitations had expired.
However, Kouchner’s book was instrumental in prompting a move
by the French government to overhaul the country’s legislation
on sex between adults and minors. Other high-profile revelations of family sex abuse soon followed, which lacked a legal age of sexual consent or specific crime against incest.
While France had prohibited sex between an adult and a minor under the age of 15, it was not automatically considered rape.
9 February 2021, 19:13 GMT
However, a new law was enacted in April, which defined a sexual relationship with a minor under 15 as rape, punishable by 20 years in prison, unless the sex was consensual and the age gap minor. Amid the scandal, the French government also brought in legislation making it an offence to have a sexual relationship with a close relative who was under 18.
This comes as one in 10 people in France claimed they had been victims of incest, according to an Ipsos poll
conducted in November 2020. According to estimates
by France’s Interior Ministry, no more than 10 percent of victims of sexual abuse ever lodged a complaint against the perpetrators.