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

Any sexual act by an adult with a child younger than 15 can be prosecuted as a sexual offence under current French law

Any sexual act by an adult with a child younger than 15 can be prosecuted as a sexual offence under current French law

Two adult men were accused of having sex with two 11-year-olds who were considered consenting under French law.

It would be the first law of its kind in France, where there is now no law that states a child below a certain age is considered incapable of consenting to sex.

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.

The push to finally set an age of consent follows cases in recent months that have shocked the country. One was not convicted of rape because he did not use physical force on the minor; the other is facing rape charges after first being only charged with sexual abuse of a minor, according to France 24.

France's government plans on setting a formal age of sexual consent after a public outcry over two cases of sex involving 11-year-old girls, equality minister Marlène Schiappa said on Monday.

Lawmakers have proposed that the age of consent be raised to 15, after consulting with the public and a panel of experts. "We want to fix an age in the law below which it's always forbidden to have sex with children, with young girls".

After that case made headlines children's rights group Le Voix de l'Enfant said in a statement: "The question of consent or its absence should never even be asked when it comes to rape victims who are minors".

Schiappa told the news agency that she was "very glad" that the age limit decided by the government was 15.

The change is part of a wider law "against sexist and sexual violence" that will be presented to the council of ministers on March 21.

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".

The case has now been moved up to a higher court and the accused man will stand trial for rape. President Emmanuel Macron also supports the limit.

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.

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