After Men Cleared Of Raping 11-Year-Olds, France Weighs Changing Law

The cases involving adult men who were accused of raping two 11-year-olds may have prompted French lawmakers to discuss changes to current age of consent rules.

Girl with eyes closed holds anti-rape sign at protest reading "Criminals should be punished"

France may soon change its laws regarding age of consent following two cases of rape in which both attackers were cleared after raping 11-year-old children. 

France’s Minister of Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa said the government is currently considering passing laws that would set an age of consent, making it automatically illegal for adults to carry out sexual relationships with minors, the BBC reports.

While the law currently says the age of consent is 15, prosecutors are forced to prove sex was non-consensual so that the court rules it as rape. In the event they are unsuccessful, attackers can only be charged with sexual abuse, carrying a maximum sentence of only five years in jail along with an $87,000 fine.

If the law changes, then sex with a child younger than 15 would automatically be considered a serious offense, carrying a much harsher sentence.

While Schiappa did not comment on the court’s decision regarding the two cases of abuse against 11-year-olds, she told reporters that the government is currently looking into changing the current rules.

The cases that may have prompted this consideration involve a 30-year-old, who was 22 at the time of intercourse with an 11-year-old. His lawyers successfully argued there had been no sign of “threat of violence,” so he was acquitted.

The 11-year-old girl eventually became pregnant, which was when the family finally learned about their involvement.

The second case involved a 28-year-old who had intercourse with an 11-year-old. His lawyers said the girl had followed him home and that there was no evidence of violence, threat, or constraint. They also claimed there was no sign of surprise. Therefore, the court ruled the man hadn’t raped the girl.

In the United States, the age of consent varies from state to state, but it usually lies between 16 and 18 years old. Despite the laws, however, there are still countless minors getting married thanks to legal loopholes, including some that allow victims to marry their rapists, the BBC reports.

Between 2000 and 2015, about 200,000 minors were legally married.

In countries like the United Kingdom, the age of consent is 16. Still children who are younger than 13 are protected and therefore can never consent to sexual activity.

While it’s terrifying to think that it took two cases of rape of 11-year-olds for France to mull a change to its laws, it’s comforting to know reforms are being implemented, even if the process is slower than it should be. 

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters

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