'An enormous suffering': the French magistrates struggling with child incest cases

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The French parliament this week began debating draft legislation aimed at strengthening the legal arsenal against the sexual abuse of minors, including raising the age of consent for sexual relations with an adult and introducing heavier sentences. The subject of sexual abuse of children has come to the fore in France following a series of revelations concerning high-profile individuals, the latest of which has prompted a movement on social media under the hashtag ‘#MeTooInceste’. Cécile Andrzejewski hears from magistrates about the difficulties of prosecuting incestuous sexual abuse of children, and why so many cases are simply dropped.

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Dominique Coujard is a retired criminal court judge, and has presided over around one hundred trials involving crimes of incest. He underlines the tortuous situation in which victims find themselves. “I’ve already seen convictions where a girl victim of incest shouts across to her father, ‘I love you dad, I’ll be waiting for you for when you leave prison’,” he told Mediapart.