#MeTooInceste: Emmanuel Macron promises to crack down on child sex abuse following online campaignComments
Emmanuel Macron has assured victims of interfamily sex abuse that they will "never be alone again" after an online campaign that saw hundreds of people share traumatic experiences prompted him to tighten laws on incest.
The French president said the statute of limitations for incest had already been increased to 30 years, and that checks on those working with children had improved - but stressed this was still not enough.
He has now pledged additional sexual abuse screening prevention meetings for all children in elementary and middle schools, along with state-funded psychological treatment for victims.
Speaking in a video statement on Saturday, he said: "Shattered lives in the sanctuary of a child’s room. Stolen childhoods during family vacations, or times that should have been innocent.
"These testimonies, these words, these cries, no one can ignore them anymore. Against sexual violence against our children, it is now up to us to act."
This pledge comes in response to a recent online movement that has dominated social media in France after the publication of a book that accused a top French political commentator of abusing his stepson.
Launched by activists of the French feminist group, #NousToutes, in reference to #MeToo, hundreds of victims shared harrowing memories of sexual abuse by family members under the hashtag #MeTooInceste.
The book, meanwhile, was written by Camille Kouchner, the daughter of former foreign minister and founder of Médecins Sans Frontières Bernard Kouchner. She claims her stepfather, political scientist Olivier Duhamel, abused her twin brother three decades ago.
Duhamel has said he is an "object of personal attacks" and has resigned from his role overseeing the prestigious Sciences Po university. Neither he nor his lawyer have commented on the allegations.
According to the World Health Organisation, international studies show one in five women and one in 13 men report having been sexually abused before they are 18. However, these figures are believed to be an underestimate due to secrecy that often overshadows the issue.
In his video message, Macron made sure to address all victims of child abuse directly, as he said: "Today, shame changes sides.
"To those who have already freed yourselves from a burden that you have carried for too long; to those who were about to do it but sometimes hesitated...
"I would just like to tell you: we are there, we listen to you, we believe you, and you will never be alone again."