Double threshold for incest and sexual crimes: “unexpected” announcements but …

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Double threshold for sexual crimes: “unexpected” announcements for associations but … (photo of Éric Dupond-Moretti, the Minister of Justice, taken on September 24, 2020)

POLICY – Rarely has the government’s response been so swift. At least in appearance. Sunday February 14, Éric Dupond-Moretti announced that he wanted to set a threshold of non-consent at 18 for incest, as requested by more than 160 personalities from the artistic world in a column published forty-eight hours previously.

“Nobody will be able to say: if the victim is 17 years old, she was or he agreed”, summarized the Keeper of the Seals in the program the “Grand jury” on LCI, RTL and Le Figaro, a few days after announcing another strong decision: the creation of a first age threshold set at 15 years below which any act of sexual penetration committed by an adult will be considered as rape.

Two good news for associations at the forefront against incest and sexual crimes against children who see, finally, their proposals taken up by the public authorities. “The government finds itself forced by public opinion to fundamentally modify our law because it was totally unsatisfactory”, welcomes Pascal Cussigh, lawyer and secretary of the Collective for Children, referring to the wave of testimonies collected by the hashtag # metooinceste, itself caused by the national stir around the release of the book The big family by Camille Kouchner.

The precedent of the Schiappa law in 2018

For these associations or collectives, the government’s announcements are therefore very positive. “It was unexpected that the decision would be taken so quickly”, says Françoise Cosson, member of the board of the association REVIS (Meetings and Exchanges for Solidarity Incest Victims). “Especially for incest … it was not won, it is not in their objectives but we see that it begins to resonate in their ears”, adds Anne-Marie Lemoigne, vice-president of the association “the world through a gaze”.

Applause which does not prevent vigilance. Scared by many disappointments in recent years, these same associations want to remain attentive, in particular to the transcription of these promises into law.

We remain vigilant because we have already experienced a lot of announcements with modifications or rewrites subsequently ”Anne-Marie Lemoigne, vice-president of the association “Le Monde through un regard”

“We remain vigilant because we have already seen a lot of announcements with modifications or rewrites thereafter”, tells Anne-Marie Lemoigne to HuffPost. “We had good announcements in 2018 on the fact of ruling out the questions of consent, but they were ultimately not translated into the Schiappa law”, remembers, still bitter, Pascal Cussigh, adding: “we have felt like he was betrayed. ”

The Minister in charge of Citizenship, at the time Secretary of State in charge of Equality between men and women, had proposed to enshrine in law the principle according to which “any act of sexual penetration, of any kind that it is, committed on a minor of 15 years by an adult ”is considered as a rape, according to the first version of its text. A political will then displayed in the wake of several shocking cases for public opinion such as the requalification as “sexual assault” of the rape of an 11-year-old girl.

Failed, the bill had finally been rewritten on the basis of numerous reservations made by the Council of State, the version finally voted redacting the famous age threshold. “These are exactly the same debates that we had in 2018 at the time of the Schiappa law”, breathes Pascal Cussigh, now “necessarily cautious about the new announcements that are made.”

And the prescription?

Especially since the associations have already identified a breach: the introduction of an exception to the 15-year threshold, in the event that the two protagonists have an age gap of five years. Clearly, “the young man of 17 and a half who has a relationship with a young girl of 14 and a half cannot become a criminal when he is 18 and one day”, in the words of Éric Dupond-Moretti. on Tuesday February 9th.

“That leaves a blur,” regrets Françoise Cosson of the REVIS association. Pascal Cussigh of the Children’s Collective, for his part, fears a sort of “legal vacuum” for adolescents aged 13 to 15 years. “The threshold of 15 years which was supposed to pose a strong and clear prohibition, would rather be fixed de facto at 13 because it is only at this stage that protection exists in all cases ”, fears the lawyer.

There is also the issue of imprescriptibility, consisting in eliminating the period beyond which one can no longer judge the facts – carried by many associations in the same way as this “double threshold” for consent. But on this point, the Minister of Justice underlines a lack of consensus. “Some victims need the deadline beyond which nothing is possible to decide. (…) Other victims say, I want to free myself but I do not want a trial and I am waiting for the limitation period to be acquired ”, explained Éric Dupond-Moretti on Sunday to the“ Grand Jury. ”

If the victim ends up with a beautiful text of law, but no magistrate to enforce it, we will not be further ahead. “Pascal Cussigh, lawyer and secretary of the Children’s Collective

For associations contacted by The HuffPost, the end of the prescription would go “in the right direction”, even if today, the only facts concerned are crimes against humanity. “Crimes against children are tomorrow’s crimes against Humanity”, Pascal Cussigh tells us, for whom imprescriptibility is “defensible” in this area.

The associations want more resources

But beyond these legal debates, all the associations plead for additional funds allocated to training, the recruitment of psychologists or lawyers, one of the best means of combating the scourge of sexual violence committed against children. “We must now think about how these changes will be applied in court,” says the secretary of the Collective for Children, adding: “if the victim ends up with a beautiful text of law, but no magistrate for the enforce, we will not be further ahead. ”

Anne-Marie Lemoigne of the association “Le Monde à un regard”, like the lawyer, points out a lack of material and human resources dedicated to the cause, with the eloquent example of a victim who lodged a complaint in November 2012 and whose investigation is still ongoing. “The Pontoise court is overwhelmed”, she tells us, disillusioned by this judicial slowness which “reactivates trauma.

“Now the government must really support to provide training, improve that of doctors, nurses and psychologists”, pleads for her part Françoise Cosson of the REVIS association, insisting on the importance of “specific support in terms of care for victims of incest ”, whether they are children or adults. “Often the consequences are terrible for adults. They find themselves in a position of complete precariousness, and do not have the financial means to follow therapy. And we know that without therapy we can’t do it, ”she explains.

The road thus appears still very long, behind the satisfaction of seeing the politician take these subjects head-to-head. But time is running out in the face of what Pascal Cussigh calls a “mass crime.” According to the count of the Collective for Children, a rape or an attempted rape is committed, in France, every hour on a minor.

See also on The HuffPost: #Metooinceste: she testifies after accusing her former director of a sports center in Paris


Source: Le Huffington Post by www.huffingtonpost.fr.

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