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No age of consent: force must be proved in child rape

07 March 2018

France will set its age of consent at 15 after two cases involving sex with 11-year-old girls caused public outrage, Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said.

France now has no age of consent.

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. In order to charge an offender with rape, prosecutors must prove the sex was forced.

The court found that the alleged victim was an 11-year-old girl was not subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise", before the sexual act took place.

France has long had a relatively laid-back attitude to relationships between teens and adults.

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Officials had previously mulled setting the age at 13, but some, including President Emmanuel Macron, had argued for it to be older. The two started dating when he was 16.

France plans to fix the legal age of sexual consent as 15, meaning sex with someone younger than that would be considered rape.

Ms Schiappa said the government "decided to set the age at 15" after consultations with doctors and legal experts.

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

In another case involving an 11-year-old girl, a 28-year-old man was charged with sexual relations with a minor, rather than rape, a decision that angered the child's family.

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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.

Currently, France does not have a rule saying a child under a certain age is considered incapable of consenting to sex.

"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".

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No age of consent: force must be proved in child rape