Better understand the extent of the phenomenon, listen to and recognize the suffering of the victims, provide avenues for reform… This Thursday, December 10, Secretary of State Adrien Taquet appointed Élisabeth Guigou to head the future Independent Commission on Incest and all sexual violence suffered during childhood. The former Keeper of the Seals is responsible for managing its implementation by then.
“She is an authority figure, she has solid political experience and knows the institutions well”, justified Adrien Taquet, welcoming a personality who “Is committed to the side of the victims, especially when she was Keeper of the Seals, and will know how to apprehend this serious and profound subject”. The appearance of the person concerned, in a Netflix documentary devoted to DSK broadcast these days, where she believes that it did not “need” to violate because it is “charming” could nevertheless quickly cause controversy.
A blind spot for public policies
The creation of this commission comes, in fact, when the issue of sexual violence against children has gained in visibility. Until then, they had remained taboo and had also remained a blind spot in public policies. But in the wake of the revelation of several scandals, and in the wake of the Metoo movement, the scale of the problem has come to light, as has the weakness of society’s response and the difficulty victims have in obtaining justice.
→ EXPLANATION. More than 4% of girls are victims of sexual violence in the family
In order to remedy this, the government has already taken certain measures, including the adoption of the law of August 5, 2018, which aims to better punish sexual violence against minors. On a statistical level, the Virage survey by INED, published on November 23, is also the first assessment of the number of incest victims: 4% of girls and 1% of boys are believed to be affected by the phenomenon. But the essential remained to be done: to hear the victims and better understand the mechanisms at work.
A method already used by the Church
For this, the government therefore relies on an independent commission and chooses the method used by the Church against the pedophilia scandals that have erupted in recent years. The Guigou commission will work on the model of the Sauvé commission, set up at the request of the bishops in 2018. The idea is the same: listen to the words of the victims, quantify the problem and understand the loopholes that allowed the impunity of the authors.
At the start of 2021, a call for testimonials will be launched. Anyone who believes they have been the victim of sexual abuse in their youth – in the family or in all institutions – can pick up their phone. These data will then be analyzed and recommendations issued within two years. In order to guarantee the independence of the work, Élisabeth Guigou herself will choose the 22 members, all volunteers and with various profiles (lawyers, doctors, representatives of the social sciences). A budget of 4 million euros is allocated.
Rich early lessons
Over the years, the Sauvé commission has become a model. Two years after the start of its work, its independence and the quality of its work have been widely recognized. During a progress report held on November 11 before the Conference of Men and Women Religious of France (Corref), Jean-Marc Sauvé was thus able to present his first teachings.
6,500 victims contacted the commission. These testimonies made it possible to better understand the various situations of abuse, as well as the pain of the victims. “Which can go so far as to prevent being”, the president had estimated. Discussions then focused on the forms of “restorative justice” – beyond the sole financial issue – to be put in place.
Notable difference however, the Guigou commission, by the extent of its perimeter, could have more difficulty in formulating general recommendations. Nor will it be able to count on access to the archives of a defined institution, such as the Church.