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Child sex abuse in France - statistics & facts

Child sex abuse refers to sexual violence and crimes committed against minors. It includes sexual harassment, sexual assault (touching), rape (which is, according to the law, non-consensual penetration), child prostitution, incest, as well as child pornography. Considered one of the worst crimes that can be committed, child abuse is nevertheless still common: in 2018, more than 23,500 minors were victims of sexual violence. Incest is also much more widespread than expected: in 2020, it was estimated that 6.7 million people had been subjected to incest during their lives, and 32 percent of French people said they had incest victims in their circle.

If some recently published books such as Le Consentement or La Familia grande have allowed to lift the veil on these crimes and to free the word, the omerta remains in place in cases of child sex abuse. While 69 percent of victims have reported the abuse, 67 percent say it has not changed their situation, and 74 percent say no complaint has been filed with law enforcement. Silence and inaction in the face of such crimes can be due to the desire to keep the family circle free of scandal. On the other hand, especially after the Outreau case, the word of the children is sometimes questioned.

In most cases, the type of abuse suffered is sexual touching. Nevertheless, almost a quarter of victims of sexual violence during childhood were raped. Although boys are not spared, the vast majority of victims are girls, mostly under the age of 12. As for the perpetrators, 95 percent are men. Most often committed by one or more family members, these assaults usually take place in the family home or in the extended family circle. Rape of a minor by a stranger occurs less, in comparison (11 percent). However, as age increases, sexual violence against adolescents over the age of 13 tends to occur in a festive setting. In almost half of cases, this sexual violence occurs only once. However, 23 percent of victims were abused for one to ten years. But whether the violence was one-time or recurrent, the trauma often remains the same for the victims and impacts all life areas: sexual, mental, social, family, professional and physical. More than half of the victims report having experienced depressive episodes and suffering from anxiety and phobic disorders. 22 percent have attempted to end their lives. 30 percent of victims of sexual violence during childhood suffer again from sexual aggression as adults.


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