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

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

Any sexual act by an adult with a child younger than 15 can be prosecuted as a sexual offence under current French law. The move by France follows advice from doctors and legal experts.

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.

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

The new law will be presented to Council of Ministers on March 21.

As The New York Times explains, "In France, as long as "violence, coercion, threat or surprise" is not proven, sexual intercourse with a minor - even one under 15 - is considered an atteinte sexuelle, which is an infraction and not a crime".

In another case, a man, who is now 28, has faced charges of sexual assault rather than rape, which has enraged the family and public.

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The new plans are to change the legal age of sexual consent to 15-years-old, meaning that any sex between an adult and a child of under 15 will be considered rape. Instead, the men were charged with sexual abuse of a minor, a lesser charge.

In the United Kingdom the age of sexual consent is 16, but children under the age of 13 have additional legal protections that declare they can never consent to sexual activity. A 30-year- old man was found innocent of rape for having sex with a girl, who at the time was 11-year-old, later giving birth to a child.

"The Bill will contain a clause stating an age limit below which it will always be deemed that a child was forced", Schiappa said, supporting the reform.

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. Shiappa and French president Emanuel Macron had been considering the change since October 2017.

"But last month the court reversed course and said the [28-year-old] man should indeed face rape charges, though it asked for the trial to be moved to a higher court".

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