France To Set Formal Age Of Consent So Adults Can’t Rape Kids Anymore

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“I think we must reaffirm the existing law that sets the age of sexual majority at 15,” said Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa.

France

The government of France is finally planning to set 15 as the legal age of sexual consent following two shocking and high-profile cases of 11-year-old rape victims who did not get justice because there were no signs of coercion.

The country currently does not have a formal age of consent. Rape charges can only be brought if there is evidence of violence or force.

However, if proven, the penalty for the offence against a victim younger than 15-years-old is relatively harsher: a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of over $93,000.

"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,” the New York Times reported.

After careful discussions with doctors as well as legal experts whether to set the age limit as 13 or 15, the government decided to set it as 15.

Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa announced the much-needed move that she herself had proposed.

"The government has decided to set the age at 15," Schiappa said. “I think we must reaffirm the existing law that sets the age of sexual majority at 15, and make sure that there are trials for rape and not for sex assault.”

She was reportedly “very glad” the higher age limit was chosen.

The new law would create a threshold, under which a child will not have to prove he or she was forced. The bill suggested intercourse with someone younger than 15 will automatically be considered as rape.

The government is yet to approve the new age limit. However, it is backed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

After 20 years of adults getting away with sexual violence against children, the government is finally considering amending the law.

It is to be noted that last November, a 30-year-old was not convicted with rape charges against 11-year-old victim because the prosecutors could not obtain evidence of "constraint, threat, violence or surprise.”

In a similar case, a 28-year-old was charged with sexual relations with a minor and not rape because it was not proven if the victim was physically forced.

However, last month, the court reversed the charges to rape.

Another case saw a school teacher only being suspended for having a relationship with a 13-year-old student.

In the U.S., the age of consent varies from state to state. However, it lays between ages 16 to 18.

The bill will be presented to the parliament tomorrow.

Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Reuters, Mehdi Fedouach

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