Incest Scandal Sets Off a New #MeToo Movement in France

Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, told TF1, a French TV station, on Sunday, “It is absolutely necessary that these actions are known, and that these actions are not silenced.”

Mr. Loiseleur said, “Incest is like the elephant in the room that nobody wants to see,” adding, “It is the most widespread form of sexual violence and the least talked about.”

Similar to the scandal around the pedophile writer Gabriel Matzneff, the allegations against Mr. Duhamel have caused a significant stir within the French establishment. Mr. Duhamel was a towering figure as the head of the governing board overseeing the prestigious Sciences Po university in Paris and president of “Le Siècle,” an elite social club in the capital. Suspicions have grown over the past two weeks about who might have known about the accusations and kept silent.

Frédéric Mion, the director of Sciences Po, who according to the newspaper Le Monde had known about the allegations since 2018, has been under pressure from his students to step down. Élisabeth Guigou, a former justice minister and close friend of Mr. Duhamel, resigned last week as the head of a committee on sexual violence against children, but she said she had been unaware of the alleged abuse.

Mr. Loiseleur said incest needed to be identified “as a public health issue that requires significant resources.” His organization has long called on the authorities to make incest a specific crime, with no statute of limitations.

France recently extended the statute of limitations for rape against a minor to 30 years, from 20 years, and two bills that would create an age of consent for sexual relationships with a minor will soon be introduced for examination in Parliament.

French laws prohibit sex between an adult and a minor under the age of 15, but it is not automatically considered rape. Further circumstances, such as the use of coercion, threats, or violence, are necessary to characterize such sexual relationships as rape.

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