France to set age of sexual consent at 15

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.

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.

French Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa has welcomed a move by the country which aims to fix the legal age of sexual consent as 15, making sex between an adult and someone of that age and below to be considered as rape.

Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa told reporters that "the government has chose to set the age at 15", after widespread criticism broke out against the laws that allowed two men to escape rape charges following sexual misconduct with underage girls. 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. The current age of consent in France is 15.

The law, once implemented, will set the age at which a person can not agree to any sexual intercourse at 15 and will criminalize any sexual activity with any minor younger than that age, had passed after public consultation and expert recommendation.

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Ms Schiappa told AFP news agency that her ministry was "very glad" that the higher age was chosen. President Emmanuel Macron met his future wife, Brigitte, when he was around 14 and she was 38 and a teacher at his school.

In another case, a court initially said a 28-year-old man should face charges of sexual assault, and not rape, after saying the victim was "not physically forced to have sex".

In November, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of raping an 11-year-old girl because the court said there had been "no violence, coercion, threat or surprise".

If the child is under 15 years of age, the new law will put the onus on the adult to prove the minor gave consent, instead of expecting the victim to prove they were threatened, coerced, or surprised.

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

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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