France wants to set 15 as minimum age for sexual consent

France wants to set 15 as minimum age for sexual consent

In December, Macron said he would push for the age of sexual consent and the presumption of rape to both be set at 15, saying: "Our criminal law contains intolerable ambiguities".

In one of the cases, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of raping an 11-year-old in November.

Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa welcomed the move, which follows advice from doctors and legal experts.

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Lawmakers have proposed that the age of consent be raised to 15, after consulting with the public and a panel of experts. She said a new law would be presented to France's equivalent of a cabinet on March 21. Furthermore, this formal decree will also pit the onus on the adult who would have to prove that the child gave consent, as opposed to the victim having to give valid evidence supporting their claims of coercion or threat.

Under existing laws, if violence and force can't be proven, offenders may only be charged with sexual abuse of a minor and not with rape.

Another case sparking outrage involved a 28-year-old man who received a lesser charge of sexual relations with a minor rather than rape.

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The new age limit, part of a package of laws aimed at curbing sexual violence and sexism, is to be approved by the government in the coming weeks. The court subsequently did issue a charge of rape last month, with the trial pending as they ask it to move to a higher court.

"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".

The new law would create a threshold, said Schiappa, according to which any sexual activity with a child under the age of 15 will be criminalized and it would be considered the child was coerced.

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Speaking previously Schiappa said: "The law will mean that "below a certain age, there can be no debate, ever, on the sexual consent of a child, and that any child below a certain age would automatically be considered as raped or sexually assaulted".

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