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Age of consent to be set at 15

New law follows outrage as no rape charges brought against two men who had sex with 11-year-olds

France is to set the legal age of consent at 15 after outrage when rape charges were not brought against two men accused of having sex with two 11-year-old girls.

The age will be set in an amendment to the Code penal and Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa said she was delighted that “after consultations with citizens and an experts’ report” the age of 15 had been recommended.

At present France has an 'age of sexual majority' at 15, and it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a person under that age, however it may not be classed as the very serious crime of rape if the courts consider the young person gave consent.

The new law will mean under-15s will not legally be able to consent and all sex with them will be rape. In the cases of the 11-year-old girls, the men had been able to say no force was used and they were charged with a sex offence involving a minor. One man was acquitted - the prosecution has launched an appeal - and the other case is continuing.

For clarification on the law regarding sexual offences in France, read this article.

There had been discussions on whether the age of 13 or 15 would be chosen with President Macron saying he favoured 15 while the main Paris prosecutor had said it would be ‘consistent’ at 13 (which is also the age below which all sex is 'statutory rape' in the UK).

At the end of March the government will introduce new measures against sexism, street harassment and sexual violence.

It comes as an Ifop poll said that one woman in three (32%) had been the victim of some form of sexual harassment in their working lives.

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