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Incest: MEPs address the sensitive issue of parental authority


Isabelle Santiago, MP for Val-de-Marne, is convinced of this: on the fight against incest, “society is ready to move forward, it is up to us parliamentarians to support this movement”. To do this, the socialist will defend, Thursday, February 9 in the hemicycle of the National Assembly, a bill on the sensitive subject of parental authority. At present, the forfeiture of parental rights is still an exception, including in situations of intra-family violence.

This is why, in its initial version, the bill of Mme Santiago provided for the automatic and total withdrawal of parental authority and its exercise in the event of conviction for incestuous aggression, a crime against the child or the other parent. It was directly inspired by the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Abuse of Children (Ciivise), which the elected representative was delighted with. World.

But a rewriting work, carried out with the services of the chancellery before the passage of the text in the commission of laws, came to clearly reduce its scope. In the version unanimously adopted by the Law Commission on 1er February, the automatic nature was removed to leave room for the possibility of a principle withdrawal of parental authority or its exercise on “express decision” of the judge. A convoluted writing that hardly changes the current state of the law.

Relative progress

Ultimately, the main advance of the text, at this stage, lies in its article 1er, which provides for the suspension of parental authority and its exercise as well as visitation and accommodation rights from the prosecution stage, pending the final decision which will therefore have to confirm it in the event of a conviction. Advanced, again, relative, since 73% of complaints for sexual violence against children are dismissed and therefore do not lead to any prosecution. The parliamentary shuttle that begins Thursday will make further changes.

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Two years after the hope aroused by the media impact of the publication of the book The Big Family, by Camille Kouchner (Seuil, 2021), which narrates the incest committed by his stepfather, Olivier Duhamel, on his twin brother, we are still far from “paradigm shift” that child protection actors are calling for. Despite freedom of speech for victims, recent legislative advances – in particular the creation of a threshold of non-consent to sexual relations set at 15 years by the law of April 21, 2021 –, on the ground, the answer to those who dare to reveal the facts is in reality still ” random “notes in particular Cathy Milard, director of the Nantes branch of the association SOS Incest & Sexual Violence, which accompanies victims and relatives of victims.

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