Media and associations echo this assertion according to which 165,000 children are victims of rape and attempted rape each year in France. However, this is a very difficult estimate to verify.
“Today we know that there are 165 000 children raped each year in France “, here is what we could still hear on Tuesday September 14 on France Inter, in the mouth of Andréa Bescond, director of the film The Tickles and author of Let’s talk ? (a collection of books for children explaining to them the violence of which they can be victims). This figure impresses, but it is difficult to verify.
A number that does not come out of nowhere
This figure of “165 000 children raped each year in France “, Andréa Bescond does not take it out of her hat. It can be found in numerous press articles and on the websites of several child protection associations, in particular Unicef France. By tracing the thread, we discover that one of these associations is in fact at the origin: the association Traumatic memory and victimology. “It is estimated that each year, 130 000 girls and 35 000 boys have been raped and attempted rape in addition to 94,000 adult women and adult men (estimate from CSF victimization surveys, 2008; ONDRP 2012-2017; VIRAGE 2017) “, can we read in particular on his website. Contacted by franceinfo, the president of this association, psychiatrist Muriel Salmona, confirms that her association is at the origin of this evaluation. Muriel Salmona explains that it is actually a “Extrapolation carried out on the basis of several victimization surveys because the number of complaints of rape of minors is necessarily underestimated”.
A number of complaints below reality
A Senate report dating from 2018 confirms the difficulty of assessing the number of sexual violence suffered by minors. “How to estimate, at the national level, the prevalence of sexual violence experienced by minors? Little denounced, they remain difficult to quantify “, admit the rapporteurs, adding that “Statistical data on sexual offenses committed against minors are scarce, subject to significant interpretation bias and difficult to compare with one another.” If we stick to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, we actually count a little more than 7 000 complaints (to the police and the gendarmerie) for rape of minors in 2019. However, we know that in this area, few attacks lead to complaints. We know in particular that only 10% of rapes against adults are the subject of a complaint. Affirm that there are only 7 000 children raped per year in France on the basis of these data would therefore necessarily fall short of reality. However, how to explain such a large gap between the ministerial figures and the estimate of this association?
A calculation method that is not transparent
Starting from the observation that the official figures could not bear witness to the reality of sexual violence suffered by minors in France, Muriel Salmona explains that her association therefore decided to make its own estimate. The president of the association ensures that it is not an evaluation “in the air”, but a serious estimate carried out with the help of a statistician on the basis of data already collected during victimization surveys carried out among adults and taking into account certain demographic criteria. Muriel Salmona concedes that it is a complex calculation but assures that the result itself is probably still underestimated. The problem is that by not giving the details of this calculation, it becomes impossible to check whether this estimate is really relevant.
Cyril Rizk, former rresponsible for statistics at the National Observatory of Delinquency and Criminal Responses (ONDRP), confirms that as it stands, this figure is impossible to verify. “The principle is that a figure can inform the public debate only if its method of calculation is transparent”, explains the expert. And he concludes: “The lack of transparency on the method leads to questioning the figure and not the reality that we are trying to apprehend”.