France to set age of sexual consent at 15 after rape outcry

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This decision comes after two high-profile cases of rape involving 11 year-old girls which has sparked outrage throughout the land.

It would be a first for France, which does not now have an age of consent.

Although the age of consent is now set at 15, prosecutors have to prove in court that it was non-consensual in order to secure a rape conviction.

In another case involving an 11-year-old girl, a 28-year-old man was charged with sexual relations with a minor, rather than rape, a decision that angered the child's family.

Earlier, officials had discussed setting it at 13.

Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the "government has chose to set the age at 15", after consultations with the public and an expert panel, according to French news agency AFP.

The French government is proposing a law that would say that anyone under the age of 15 can not consent to sex, after widespread shock at two recent cases involving 11-year-old girls.


Sentences are the same for sexual assaults of minors and non-minors, but rape convictions carry much harsher punishments. The current age of consent in France is 15.

They asked for the government to bring France into line with most other European countries by announcing a minimum age of consent, which varies but is usually between 13 and 15.

She said: "We want to fix an age in the law below which it's always forbidden to have sex with children, with young girls, below which it's always considered as a rape".

Lawmakers hope this proposal, which is part of a bill aimed at reducing sexual violence in the country, will be implemented in the coming weeks.

Ms Schiappa told AFP news agency that she was "very glad" that the higher age was chosen.

Last November, a french court acquitted a 30-year-old rape after it determined that his 11-year-old victim had not been subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise".

In the United Kingdom the age of sexual consent is 16, but children under the age of 13 have additional legal protections that declare they can never consent to sexual activity. The limit is also supported by President Emmanuel Macron.

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