France to present first statutory rape law

Lawmakers and child-protection groups have been urging the government to set a minimum age of consent as is the case in many European countries with suggested ages ranging from 13 to 15

The law, once implemented, will set the age at which a person can not agree to any sexual intercourse at 15 and will criminalize any sexual activity with any minor younger than that age, had passed after public consultation and expert recommendation.

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.

The French government has agreed to set the age of sexual consent at 15 years old after public fury over two cases involving girls as young as 11.

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".

Currently, prosecutors must prove sex with someone under 15 was forced in order to bring rape charges.

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.




A public uproar over cases involving men who had sex with 11-year-old girls helped spark the legislative change.

When a conviction is successful, the punishment - a 20-year jail sentence - is much harsher than in cases where the victim is not a minor. The current age of consent in France is 15.

Schiappa told AFP news agency that she was "very glad" that the higher age was chosen.

If the child is under 15 years of age, the new law will put the onus on the adult to prove the minor gave consent, instead of expecting the victim to prove they were threatened, coerced, or surprised.

Last November the country was left shocked when a 30-year-old man who had sex with an 11 year old girl was acquitted of rape, after the court found that she had not been the subject of "constraint, threat, violence, or surprise".

"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". The limit is also supported by President Emmanuel Macron.

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