Published: Wed, March 07, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

France To Make 15 Legal Age Of Consent For Sex

France To Make 15 Legal Age Of Consent For Sex

According to France's current laws, sex with a child younger than 15 years old can be criminalized only if it is proven that the act was forced.

In November 2017, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of rape after a court determined his 11-year-old victim had not been subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise".

The move was welcomed by France's equality minister, Marlène Schiappa.

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France's Minister for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa said the government had made a decision to keep the age of consent at 15 following a citizens' consultation and the findings of an expert report.

Currently, prosecutors must prove sex with someone under 15 was forced in order to bring rape charges. She said a new law would be presented to the Council of Ministers - France's equivalent of a Cabinet - on March 21, according to local media reports.

To decide upon this they enlisted the help of doctors and legal experts and Schiappa said that she was "very glad" that they had chosen 15 - an age that has been touted as appropriate by most organisations that campaign for an end to violence against children.

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Sentences are the same for sexual assaults of minors and non-minors, but rape convictions carry much harsher punishments.

In a similar case, also involving an 11-year-old girl, a man who was 28 at the time of the alleged offense faced lesser charges of sexual relations with a minor, but not rape.

The government of France has announced that it will institute a minimum age of consent, after two high-profile rape cases highlighted its absence from the nation's laws. However, in February, the court reversed the decision and said the man should indeed face rape charges, although it asked for the trial to be moved to a higher court. "Below which it's always considered as a rape", she said.

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The new requirement is expected go into effect following government approval of a package of sexual violence and gender discrimination laws in the coming weeks. President Emmanuel Macron, among others, argued for it to be older.

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