France Debates Dropping Minimum Legal Age for Sexual Consent to 13

French government to change sexual consent to the age of 13 years old

In France, the law fixes the age of sexual majority at 15 years, and a minor over the age of 15 is able to legally engage in sexual relations even with an adult without the latter being prosecuted.

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told France's RTL radio network that age 13 was a "limit that is worth considering" for the upcoming legislation, but noted that judges should also have the ability to assess whether someone was old enough to give consent in individual situations.

Marlene Schiappa, a junior minister for gender equality, said Sunday that the cut-off could be between the ages of 13 and 15.

The French government are now discussing the idea of allowing the legal age of consent to be at the age of 13 years old.

One of her colleagues in the French government has said that a minimum age for sexual consent has not been set for the bill.

Many nations around the world don't have any legal age of consent, or rely on tradition and religious practice to dictate it.

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The need to amend the law was brought to light by the jury verdict in the case of a 30-year-old man who, back in 2009, allegedly lured an 11-year-old girl into a sexual relationship.

Like the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands also have statutory rape laws, which presume that people below a certain age can not consent to sex even if they are not coerced into it.

Following the encounter, the girl, who is of Congolese descent, became pregnant and subsequently gave birth to a baby which her family chose to place in foster care out of fear of being condemned in the community.

A similar decision was handed down in April in Val-d'Oise, where the charges were modified from "rape" to "sexual assault", since according to French law rape requires "violence, coercion, threat or surprise", and these had been absent.

It was discovered that the 11-year-old girl was seeing the man when she became pregnant with his child. For rape, offenders face a much harsher penalty of 15 years behind bars if the victim is 15 or older, and up to 20 years if the victim is a minor under 15. The official wasn't authorized to be publicly named. City figures weren't immediately available, but the gendarme data come as French women are increasingly speaking out online about past sexual abuse following USA revelations.

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