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France failing child sex abuse victims, survey finds

media Stop au déni's website Sreen grab

France’s social services are failing to protect children from sex abuse, an NGO charged this weekend after a survey showed that only four per cent of victims had received help from the appropriate agency.

One in five women in France and one in 14 men say they have suffered sexual abuse and 81 per cent of them were abused before they were 18, 51 per cent before the age of 11 and 21 per cent before the age of six

The campaign group Mémoire traumatique and victimologie, supported by the UN’s children’s fund Unicef, spoke to 1,210 victims between the ages of 15 and 72, 95 per cent of them women.

Almost all of them - 95 per cent – reported that their experience had affected their mental and physical health and 42 per cent had attempted suicide, sometimes as many as 10 times.

More than half of the victims had been abused by a member of their family.

The organisation, which has launched a campaign called Stop au Déni (Stop Denial), accuses the authorities of failing to supply appropriate support, protection and recognition of victims, especially the most vulnerable, “while the effects on health, emotional, family and professional life seem to be extremely significant”.

Only four per cent of victims said that the children’s support agency Aide sociale had helped them and the majority of those who had complained to police said they were “not protected”.

Stop au Déni, which was to present the survey’s findings to a conference on Monday 2 March, called the situation a “public health scandal”.

“The authorities must urgently provide the resources needed to effectively protect, support and care for the victims so as to break the vicious cycle of abuse,” Stop au Déni’s president Dr Muriel Salmona said on Sunday.

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