France Moves to Make Its Age of Consent 15 Years Old

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

However, if the adult in question is to be charged with rape, the prosecutors must prove that the sex was forced.

Paris: France plans to set the legal age of sexual consent as 15 after two-high profile cases involving 11-year-old girls, according to the country's Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa.

And in another case, a 28-year-old man faced charges of sexual relations with a minor and not rape - but this decision was reversed last month and the court said he should face rape charges.

The government's women's affairs office said on Tuesday that it has chose to set the threshold at 15 in a bill to be presented to Parliament later this month. In addressing rape culture, she told CNN, "We want to fix an age in the law below which it's always forbidden to have sex with children, with young girls".

When a conviction is successful, the punishment - a 20-year jail sentence - is much harsher than in cases where the victim is not a minor. "Below which it's always considered as a rape", she said in an interview.

In one case a man was charged with sexual assault and not rape because the victim was considered to have consented and in another case a man accused of raping an 11-year-old was acquitted.

Minister of Solidarity and Health Agnes Buzyn said setting a legal age of sexual consent would allow a "collective awareness" and that everyone would see what was "legal and illegal", Le Figaro newspaper reported.

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

To decide upon this they enlisted the help of doctors and legal experts and Schiappa said that she was "very glad" that they had chosen 15 - an age that has been touted as appropriate by most organisations that campaign for an end to violence against children.

President Emmanuel Macron pushed for an age of consent of 15, rather than 13.

The case has now been moved up to a higher court and the accused man will stand trial for rape.

  • Jon Douglas