French police have received a daily average of about 49 reports of rapes involving minors in 2021, according to a report by RTL news.
Law enforcement agencies also reported an average of 68 cases daily of sexual assault and sexual harassment of minors.
More than 200 police and gendarmerie personnel are trained to handle the sensitive task of enabling child victims to narrate traumatic experiences and register legal complaints, said RTL.
Reports about the high number of rape cases involving minors come in the wake of legislation adopted by parliament in April that criminalizes sex with children under the age of 15. Offenders face prison time of up to 20 years.
Before the law was passed, legislation related to the age of sexual consent were murky and required proof of coercion or trickery involving minors younger than 15. If there were a lack of evidence, cases would be treated with the lesser offense of sexual assault instead of rape.
A recent investigation found 216,000 minors were sexually abused within the French Catholic Church from 1950 to 2020.
France also recorded an increase in rape cases following the #MeToo movement. According to 2019 data by the Interior Ministry, an estimated 19,200 rape and 28,900 cases of sexual assault were registered in 2018 — up from 16,400 rape and 24,000 sexual assault cases in 2017.