• On November 25, the Women's Foundation published a report highlighting the difficulties encountered by victims of sexual violence.

    After a complaint, the cost would be almost 10,000 euros for the rest of the procedure, according to the organization.

  • But according to several Internet users and lawyers, this figure would be inflated.

    Legal aid would allow victims not to pay all these costs.

  • Is this really the case?

    20 Minutes

    asked two lawyers.

It is the triple penalty.

Little heard for their complaints at the police station, the victims of sexual violence will also have to be ready to pay to prosecute their attackers until the hearing, according to a report published by the Women's Foundation on November 25, on the occasion of the international day for the elimination of violence against women.

The report highlights the obstacles faced by a victim of rape or sexual assault, whether financial or psychological.

According to the two authors of the report, Lucile Peytavin and Lucile Quillet, the cost of legal proceedings for rape is estimated at 10,657 euros.

But after the publication of the report on social networks, Internet users as well as lawyers stepped up to the plate.

According to them, the very high cost estimated by the report would not be a problem since legal aid would be a right for victims of crime.

What is it really ?

20 Minutes

asked two lawyers, as well as the co-author of the report Lucile Quillet.


When starting this report, Lucile Quillet and her co-author Lucile Peytavin asked themselves a question: “When you file a complaint, do you get justice or not?

And are these additional costs on top of the violence already known?


Complaints only result in a strict minority in a sanction and this would cost the victim dearly, 10,657 euros on average, according to the report of the Women's Foundation.

But very few official data exist to estimate this cost, explains Lucile Quillet, who therefore used the resources of several ministries, as well as those of actors in the field.

The idea here was not to discourage victims, but to inform them of the obstacles to overcome after a complaint.



In its report, the Women's Foundation clearly explains that legal aid is possible.

It is defined as “payment by the State of costs related to legal proceedings for perpetrators and victims alike”.

But as confirmed by Carine Durrieu-Diebolt, lawyer at the Paris bar, specializing in sexual violence, “this aid only intervenes once the court has been seized.

The victims cannot benefit from it at the time of the complaint and the investigation, the first part is therefore at the expense of the victims”.

This is one of the disabilities reported by the Women's Foundation.

Legal assistance for rapes only

But the problem goes deeper, according to the report.

If legal aid is a right for victims of rape, because it is considered a crime, the complainants will most often be offered to reclassify rape as sexual assault [which is a crime].

"Victims accept most of the time, partly to save time and financial costs, without always being aware that this requalification will potentially reduce their access to legal aid and the limitation period".

In these cases, legal aid will indeed be assessed according to the complainant's income.

“If you are a victim of sexual assault and you have a high income, you are not entitled to legal aid,” says Carine Durrieu-Diebolt.

In the report, the authors also take an interesting case: that of Julie, a thirty-something Parisian who earns 1,450 euros net per month.

In addition to the costs for medical expertise and the intervention of a bailiff, Julie files a complaint and becomes a civil party.

She calls on a lawyer, excluding AJ, “to ensure a good defense”.

Here, we face a new limit pointed out by the authors of the report: do lawyers want to take on a case that can last up to ten years and which brings them little?

"Legal aid does not make us live"

“For us lawyers, it is certain that legal aid does not make us live.

It's better than nothing, but it's almost pro-bono indeed, ”says Marion Ménage, criminal lawyer at the Pontoise bar.

Before adding: “Today, the issue of sexual violence mobilizes many lawyers, many of us are committed to the issue.

A woman who comes to see us for these files and who is in a complicated situation, we take the file.

We always find a way to manage to represent it, otherwise we wouldn't be doing this job”.

The statement is more nuanced on the side of Carine Durrieu-Diebolt, who describes legal aid more as “financial compensation”, rather “than real remuneration”.

“Some lawyers refuse legal aid for financial reasons.

A law firm cannot operate solely with legal aid,” explains the lawyer, who is in favor of upgrading legal aid and taking it into account as soon as the complaint is filed.

An opinion shared by the report of the Women's Foundation which considers that the same legal aid should also be granted to civil parties as to defendants.

Other solutions?

For the two lawyers interviewed by

20 Minutes,

even if the victim is not eligible for legal aid, there would be a whole range of solutions to replace her.

"The victim can request his insurance, it can allow partial coverage," advises Marion Ménage.

The other solution, according to Carine Durrieu-Diebolt, would be to agree at the beginning on a “relatively low” fixed fee between the victim and the lawyer.

Then, later, to fix a fee of result.

“If the victim wins, he pays a percentage of the damages to the lawyer.

It is a system practiced quite frequently.

However, the number of convictions is still minimal today.

"Only 8% of perpetrators of sexual violence are convicted and it is estimated that less than 1% of perpetrators of rape are convicted," reports the Women's Foundation.


Investigation for rape, sexual harassment… Back to the Léo Grasset case 

Miscellaneous facts

Polanski case: The director will be tried in March 2024 for defamation of a woman who accuses him of sexual abuse

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  • Violence against women

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