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France Moves to Make Its Age of Consent 15 Years Old

France Moves to Make Its Age of Consent 15 Years Old

France will set its age of consent at 15 after two cases involving sex with 11-year-old girls caused public outrage, Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said.

In October 2017, she told CNN that she wanted to address rape culture.

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 move was welcomed by France's equality minister, Marlène Schiappa.

Sexual acts with a child under the age of 15 are illegal under French law but to charge an offender with rape it must be proved that sex was forced. If the court acknowledges that it was consensual, the punishment for sex with a minor can drop from 20 years in prison to 5.

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.

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Other groups had also joined the call for the French legal system to introduce a legal age under which sexual consent is never presumed.

Once approved by Parliament, the new law is expected to go into effect within the next few weeks as part of a broader package of laws aimed at reducing sexual violence and harassment. Instead, the men were charged with sexual abuse of a minor, a lesser charge.

The issue was brought to the fore after critics and lawmakers said French laws had allowed two men to escape rape charges when they were accused of sex with underage girls.

In November, a 30-year-old man was cleared of rape after the court found that the victim had not been subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise".

But last month, the same court reversed its decision, saying the accused should indeed face rape charges - though it asked for the trial to be moved to a higher court.

Schiappa told reporters she was "very glad" that the government chose to formalize the age of consent, a move that she hopes will combat the prevalence of rape culture in France. President Emmanuel Macron also supports the limit.


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