France debates age of (non-) consent

What should the age of consent be?

In France this has been the subject of heated debate after a 28-year old man was acquitted of raping an 11-year old, whom he had lured to his apartment in a Paris suburb on a promise of teaching her how to “kiss properly”.

Prosecutors ruled that the offence was not rape as their was no evidence of violence, constraint, threat or surprise.

The current French penal code says that “Committing a sexual offence against a minor under the age of 15 without violence, constraint, threat or surprise is punished by five years’ imprisonment and a fine of €75,000.”

The girl’s mother, however, insists she was paralysed with fear, and experts confirmed that this response was common, particularly amongst child victims of sexual abuse.

Big debate in France right now around the age of consent after courts didn’t prosecute grown men for rape after they had sex with 11-year-olds because coercion could not be proven.— Emmanuelle Saliba (@_esaliba) November 14, 2017

New law.

To close this legal loophole the Minister for Gender Equality, Marlène Schiappa, and the Minister for Justice, Nicole Belloubet, want to change the law so that absence of consent is presumed when the victim falls below a certain age. An age range of 13-15 is being discussed.

Opinions are divided on the issue. Childrens’ charity, L’Enfant Bleu, believes the burden of proof should not rest with the child.

Maître Yves Crespin, lawyer for the charity, explains:

“If there had been the presumption of the absence of consent, it wouldn’t have been necessary to seek this proof, which is extremely painful for the victim.”

However, Clarisse Taron, President of the Magistrate’s Union, argues:

“If we talk about that sort of limit, should we go as far as to say that it’s no longer possible for someone, even if they’re 18-years’ old, to have a sexual relationship with someone younger than 15? That it would be tantamount to rape and subject to decision by the Crown Court? I think we risk going too far.”

A bill, which will also extend the time limit for prosecuting sex crimes involving minors, and include a penalty for street harassment, will be introduced in 2018.


By: Euronews (63378.30)

Tags: Euronews

Location: Zunyi, China

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