France has decided to make 15 years as the legal age of sexual consent following a public outcry over two cases of sex involving 11-year-old girls.
The information was shared by French Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa on March 5, 2018. Schiappa stated that the decision was taken by the government after public consultations and the recommendation of a panel of experts.
• The issue was brought up after critics and lawmakers criticised the French law for allowing two men to escape rape charges after being accused of sex with underage girls.
• Under the current French law, any sexual act by an adult with a child younger than 15 years can be prosecuted as a sexual offense.
• However, the prosecutors hoping to charge an offender with rape must prove that the sex was forced, which becomes more complicated in cases involving pre-teens.
• In November 2017, 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 any kind of constraint, threat, violence or surprise.
• In another case involving an 11-year-old girl, a 28-year-old man was charged with having sexual relations with a minor, rather than rape, which enraged the girl’s family.
• However, last month the court reversed its decision and said that the man should indeed face rape charges, though it asked for the trial to be moved to a higher court.
Ever since the two cases came to the forefront, several lawmakers and child-protection groups have been urging the French government to set a minimum age of consent, as it is done in many of the European countries, with suggested ages ranging from 13 to 15.
The new age limit of 15 years would soon be approved by the government. It is a part of the government’s efforts to curb sexual violence and sexism.