UN experts urge France to protect children from incest

UN experts urge France to protect children from incest

/ 04:22 AM January 20, 2024

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Geneva, Switzerland — UN experts on Friday urged France to act swiftly to protect children from incest and other sexual abuse, and halt discrimination against mothers trying to protect their children from such abuse.

Around 160,000 children become victims of sexual assault every year in France, and 5.5 million French adults suffered sexual abuse during their childhood, according to Ciivise, a government-created commission for the protection of sexual abuse victims.


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The UN experts said allegations of sexual abuse and incest against children were downplayed in France, while mothers seeking to protect their children from predators within the family often suffered discriminatory treatment and violence.


“Despite credible allegations of sexual abuse and incestuous violence against children by their fathers, France has shown little regard for the principles of precaution and the best interests of the child, and allowed the mistreatment of their mothers,” they said.

The seven independent experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but do not speak on behalf of the United Nations, said “urgent steps” were needed “to alleviate the distressing situation in which children and their mothers are being negatively affected by the lack of adequate consideration for their needs”.

They pointed to cases where children alleged to be victims or at high risk of sexual abuse are “placed in the custody of fathers against whom the allegations are made, and the mothers are penalized for child abduction for trying to protect their children”.

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And while cases are being investigated, “the children involved remain in the custody of the alleged perpetrators”.

The experts include the UN special rapporteur on sexual abuse of children, and members of the UN working group on discrimination against women and girls.

They said France must effectively investigate all allegations of sexual abuse of children “to ensure accountability and reparation for victims and survivors”.


They urged France to put in place an effective child-friendly complaint handling system and a well-functioning investigation mechanism to process victims’ complaints.

They also called for more support and safe shelters for victims and survivors of abuse, and access to free and accessible legal services.

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