What Is The Age Of Consent In France? Sexual Violence Prompts Rethink


The French government has proposed making 15 the age of consent for sex after two high-profile cases in which men escaped rape convictions despite having intercourse with 11-year-old girls. In addressing rape culture, she told CNN, "We want to fix an age in the law below which it's always forbidden to have sex with children, with young girls".

It would be the first law of its kind in France, where there is now no law that states a child below a certain age is considered incapable of consenting to sex.

Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa welcomed the move, which follows advice from doctors and legal experts.

France's current laws allow for prosecution of those who have sex with children under 15, but rape charges required proof that the sex was forced, The Washington Post reported. If the court acknowledges that it was consensual, the punishment for sex with a minor can drop from 20 years in prison to 5.

Under existing laws, if violence and force can't be proven, offenders may only be charged with sexual abuse of a minor and not with rape.

The issue was brought to the fore after critics and lawmakers said French laws had allowed two men to escape rape charges when they were accused of sex with underage girls.

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Macron pledged to push for an age of sexual consent in December, saying, "Our criminal law contains intolerable ambiguities. our entire society is sick with sexism".

In November, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of raping an 11-year-old girl because the court said there had been "no violence, coercion, threat or surprise".

Speaking previously Schiappa said: "The law will mean that "below a certain age, there can be no debate, ever, on the sexual consent of a child, and that any child below a certain age would automatically be considered as raped or sexually assaulted".

Other groups had also joined the call for the French legal system to introduce a legal age under which sexual consent is never presumed.

President Emmanuel Macron pushed for an age of consent of 15, rather than 13.

But the same court reversed its decision last month, saying the accused should face rape charges.