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France to set legal age of sexual consent at 15
07 March 2018, 06:49 | Bernice Figueroa
Any sexual act by an adult with a child younger than 15 can be prosecuted as a sexual offence under current French law
The new age limit is part of a series of laws aimed at combating sexual violence and sexism, which will be approved by the French government later this month.
French officials will create a legal age of consent, changing the country's law to classify sex with someone younger than 15 as rape, regardless of whether physical force is used.
The French government is proposing a law that would say anyone under 15 can not consent to sex, after widespread shock at two cases involving 11-year-old girls.
This means prosecutors have a hard time charging or convicting child molesters when the case involves preteens, who by France's law were somehow able to consent to sex with adults.
Seven experts assigned by the government in February recommended the threshold and advocated for two new rape and sexual consent offenses whereby cases involving sexual relations with a person below 15 years of age would be considered an offense.
The country's Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the government "has chose to set the age at 15".
Sentences are the same for sexual assaults of minors and non-minors, but rape convictions carry much harsher punishments.
In a separate case, a 29-year-old man was originally told he should not face charges of rape because there was no evidence the 11-year-old was coerced.
France will fix the legal age of consent at 15, meaning sex with anyone younger is automatically considered rape.
"Since then lawmakers and child-protection groups have been urging the government to set a minimum age of consent, as is the case in many European countries, with suggested ages ranging from 13 to 15".
France plans to make changes to the legal age of sexual consent.
In November 2017, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of rape after a court determined his 11-year-old victim had not been subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise". President Emmanuel Macron met his future wife, Brigitte, when he was around 14 and she was 38 and a teacher at his school.
The case has now been moved up to a higher court and the accused man will stand trial for rape.
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