France targets incest for first time in national campaign
The French government launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of sexual violence against children on Tuesday, for the first time mentioning incest which has been a taboo subject in public debate.
Messages and videos will be posted on social media and placed in media, billboards and movie theatres. A TV campaign will be broadcast at half-time during a France match at the ongoing Rugby World Cup.
Charlotte Caubel, junior minister in charge of child issues, said she had wanted a hard-hitting campaign similar to those on the prevention of road deaths that would punch our fellow citizens in the gut.
It's the first time that the government uses the word 'incest' in a campaign, the first time it mentions sexual violence inside families, she told AFP.
The previous government campaign against sexual violence targeting children dates back to 2002.
- 'Everybody's fight' -
An estimated 160,000 children are victims of sexual abuse in France every year, while associations say that one in every 10 adults in France has experienced incest.
This means you meet people every day who were victims of incest or who committed incest, Caubel said.
By the end of the campaign nobody will be able to say 'I didn't know', she said. This must become everybody's fight.
Incest in France -- defined as sexual relations of a person with a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or half-sibling -- is legal as long as it occurs between consenting adults.
But in case of rape or sexual abuse committed against a minor, courts typically lengthen prison terms if the assault was also incestuous.
Incest is legal in many parts of the world, including several European countries, but illegal in the United Kingdom, most US states, and Australia.
French documentary film makers, writers and actors have recently come out against what they say has been a taboo in France, where incest has often been considered a private family matter.
French actor Emmanuelle Beart was a victim of incest as a child, she said in a documentary to air later this month.
Beart, who has starred in dozens of films and TV productions over the past 50 years, does not identify her attacker in the documentary called Such a resounding silence, which includes the stories of four incest victims, as well as Beart's own contribution.
- 'A public problem' -
A TV production called Eyes wide shut about incest will be broadcast on France's biggest TV channel TF1 in October.
Also in October a movie, Consent, based on the book by publisher Vanessa Springora about how she was groomed by writer Gabriel Matzneff while aged 14, is set for release.
A novel by Neige Sinno, Triste tigre (Sad Tiger), about the author's childhood rape by her stepfather, was released this year to strong reviews and picked up a coveted literary prize awarded by Le Monde newspaper.
Edouard Durand, a judge and co-president of the Ciivise association against sexual violence targeting children, called the government's campaign brave and praised it for not downplaying the suffering of children.
He also said it is crucial that in this campaign the government says that incest exists, and that's it's a public problem, not a private one, he told AFP.
The government has said it will boost funding to support groups helping abused children, while French parliament has begun examining a draft law brought by Socialist lawmaker Isabelle Santiago which would strip anyone found guilty of abusing their child of their parental authority.
(2023/09/15 16:19)Click Here for Japanese Translation
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