Tuesday, 13 November 2018

France sets legal age of sexual consent at 15

FRANCE-JUSTICE-DEMO

Women demonstrate to call for a legislative change to set a minimum legal age for sexual consent. AFP
PARIS: France plans to make 15 the age of sexual consent after a public outcry over two cases of sex involving 11-year-old girls, Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said on Monday..

After public consultations and the recommendation of a panel of experts, “the government has decided to set the age at 15,” Schiappa told AFP.

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.

Any sexual act by an adult with a child younger than 15 can be prosecuted as a sexual offence under current French law.

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’.”

But prosecutors hoping to charge an offender with rape must prove the sex was forced, a more complicated question when pre-teens are involved.

In November, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of the rape of an 11-year-old girl after the court determined she had not been subjected to “constraint, threat, violence or surprise”.

In another case involving an 11-year-old girl, a 28-year-old man had faced charges of sexual relations with a minor, rather than rape — a decision that
enraged the girl’s family.

But last month the court reversed course and said the man should indeed face rape charges, though it asked for the trial to be moved to a higher court.

After that case made headlines children’s rights group Le Voix de l’Enfant said in a statement: “The question of consent or its absence should never even be asked when it comes to rape victims who are minors”.

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