France: debate on sexual abuse in the family
Shortly before the publication of a book by his stepdaughter Camille Kouchner, the renowned French political scientist Olivier Duhamel has resigned from all his posts. In her book Kouchner describes how Duhamel sexually abused her brother when he was a child. French media discuss whether the taboos that still surround sexual violence in the family in France are finally crumbling.
Beginning of the end of denial?
The case is representative of many others, writes historian Laure Murat in Liberation:
“The victims don't demonise their perpetrators, but rather call into question a 'system' - a cultural context, a professional group, a generation, an era, a social class. This system is based on a golden rule: the law of silence. ... Paedophile crime is often collective. There is an aggressor and an opaque group of helpers and accomplices. ... Surprise: Olivier Duhamel, over whom a sword of Damocles hung for years, immediately resigned from all his posts after the announcement of the publication of Camille Kouchner's book. Could this be the beginning of honesty? It would be all to the credit of Metoo à la française if someone finally gave up their denial and, as if by a miracle, recognised their guilt.”
Stop looking away
L'Obs hopes the newly established commission for investigating sexual abuse of minors will bear fruit:
“If there is one subject we turn a blind eye to, one crime whose sordid reality we'd rather hide than face, it's incest. It is one of the main forms of sexual violence in France, and is discreetly referred to as 'domestic violence'. ... Because it is perpetrated in the secrecy of the home and because its denunciation endangers the balance and reputation of families, incest is a crime that is often kept secret by the victims. ... The government wants to fight this denial of the problem. A commission has been set up that has been entrusted to former Socialist justice minister Elisabeth Guigou. Let's hope its efforts are not in vain.”