End of statutes of limitations for sexual violence against minors? A necessary measure according to the Civility

After three years of existence, the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence Against Children publishes its final report and more than 80 recommendations this Friday the 17th.

End of statutes of limitations for sexual violence against minors? A necessary measure according to the Civility

After three years of existence, the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence Against Children publishes its final report and more than 80 recommendations this Friday the 17th.

Every year 160,000 children are victims of sexual violence. The figure is set by the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence Against Children (Ciivise) in its report published on Friday November 17. There are therefore 5.4 million adults who grow up having suffered this violence, 83% of whom are women.

The Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence Against Children (Ciivise), created by Emmanuel Macron on January 23, 2021, has been collecting testimonies from victims for three years. In her report, based on the analysis of statistical studies and an analysis of 30,000 testimonies, she formulates 82 public policy recommendations to better protect minors against sexual violence.

Among the main recommendations submitted to Secretary of State for Children Charlotte Caubel, some concern the judicial response to sexual violence against minors. When the victims are heard and manage to file a complaint, in only 19% of cases, the convictions issued by the courts are deemed “derisory” by the Civil Society. A large number of convictions are dismissed. Using information from the Ministry of Justice, the report establishes that only 1 in 6 complaints for rape or assault on a minor results in a conviction, the rate drops to 1 in 10 in cases of incest. The problem most often comes from the prescription of the facts.

The importance of imprescriptibility

French justice provides for limitation periods for sexual assault and rape, even when committed against minors. These deadlines are 30 years from the age of majority in cases of rape, 20 or 10 years for sexual assault depending on whether the victim is a minor over or under 15 years old.

The Civil Society recommends in its report "declaring rape and sexual assault committed against children imprescriptible". As she explains, victims who speak out about the violence they suffered do so late, and it should be taken into account that the events often took place during the victim's youth. The 30 to 10 years provided for by law therefore appear to be a short period. The report also communicates that the request concerning the abolition of limitation periods is the most formulated by the testimonies (35%).

Still concerning the judicial treatment, the Civil Society recommends the creation of the qualification of incest among sexual violence and to consider as incestuous sexual violence committed by the victim's cousins. The report also recommends that the management of these cases be entrusted to personnel (police officers, experts) specially trained in sexual violence.

Consequences that victims keep for life

The consequences of this violence are numerous and varied and accompany the victims throughout their lives. Psychotraumatic disorders or post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) are the most common, in 89% of cases, according to Ciivise. Victims may also develop eating disorders, addiction problems (alcohol, drugs or medication), physical problems, or resort to self-harm (especially among women). Victims often experience a complicated social and emotional life. Trusting others becomes a real challenge, particularly because the attackers are in 97% of cases adult men (81%) from the family circle and/or friends or neighbors of the family. The professional careers of victims are also not spared from these traumas experienced from childhood.

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