Despite the growing momentum surrounding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the boundary of consent remains ridiculously blurred in our society. In a most recent example, French lawyers are claiming an 11-year-old girl consented to sex with a 29-year-old man because “she is not a child.”
The man and the girl met in a park, and she followed him to his apartment where she agreed to sexual intercourse. The then-28-year-old man said he believed she was 16 years old.
The girl’s family filed a complaint of rape, yet in an outrageous decision, the man was put on trial for “sexual abuse of a minor under 15” — instead of the more severe crime.
As the lawyers pushed their argument that the girl consented, a disturbing defense came to light.
“She was 11 years and 10 months old, so nearly 12 years old,” the defense lawyer, Marc Goudarzian, said during the trial that commenced on Tuesday. “It changes the story. So she is not a child.”
“We are not dealing with a sexual predator on a poor little faultless goose,” defense lawyer Sandrine Parise-Heideiger added.
According to Parise-Heideiger when children reach “sexual expressiveness and you have an attitude of putting yourself in danger” then “it doesn’t necessarily mean the person on the other side is a sexual predator.”
Yup, modern rape culture rears its ugly head again.
France doesn’t have a legal age of consent, although a court ruling determined that children 5 and under cannot agree to sex. Yet this recent case has sparked a fierce debate in the country around the appropriate age a child can consent.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government introduced legislation to require a minimum age of consent. The bill will be presented to the cabinet in March.
The trial has currently been postponed and the case sent back to investigators as the presiding judge noted the prosecutor was not accurate in charging the suspect with just “sexual abuse.”
Victim-blaming is a gruesome cancer in our contemporary culture that even notably progressive societies like France can’t seem to eradicate. France’s sexual abusers have a history of receiving lax punishment for their crimes, but across the world, rapists are getting off scot-free while survivors are blamed for their assaults. Time is up indeed.
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