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France to Set Age of Consent to 15 After Child Sex Outrage

France to Set Age of Consent to 15 After Child Sex Outrage

Once approved by Parliament, the new law is expected to go into effect within the next few weeks as part of a broader package of laws aimed at reducing sexual violence and harassment. Unlike in many neighboring countries, French laws treat sex with minors as rape only in cases when prosecution manages to prove that the intercourse was forced - that coercion, threat, violence or surprise was used.

France's government plans on setting a formal age of sexual consent after a public outcry over two cases of sex involving 11-year-old girls, equality minister Marlène Schiappa said on Monday.

In the other case, charges against a 28-year-old man, also accused of raping an 11-year-old girl, were downgraded to "sexual relations with a minor", according to the AFP report.

"The government has chose to set the age at 15", France's equality minister, Marlène Schiappa, announced Monday, according to Agence France-Presse.

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. "We want to fix an age in the law below which it's always forbidden to have sex with children, with young girls".

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.

In two recent legal cases in France, adult men were accused of having sex with 11-year-old girls who were considered consenting under French law. Although the court later admitted that the man should be charged for rape, it lingered make the ruling and asked to move the trial to a higher court.

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. The limit is also supported by President Emmanuel Macron.

Some had proposed that the age of consent be set at 13, the Post reported.

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