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France to fix age of consent at 15 years

Stricter sexual harassment and rape punishments follow

After months of public debate on the issue, the French government has created a bill to fix the age of consent for sex at 15.

The bill will also combat sexual harassment in public (outrage sexiste) with on-the-spot fines of between €90 and €750 (higher for repeat offenders) and to extend the time limit from 20 to 30 years for the reporting of child rape. It now needs to be passed by parliament.

However, the implementation of Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa’s law does not make the qualification of rape automatic for any relationship between an adult and a minor under 15. The Council of State said it will always be on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of judges.

Currently the law states that while sex with anyone under 15 is illegal, it must be proven that force was used.

The government hopes these moves will go some way towards resolving a crisis revealed by the ‘balancetonporc’ (grass on your pig) movement, and a string of scandals involving politicians, footballers and business leaders, which led President Macron to declare last November that “our entire society is ill with sexism”.

Police unions have said the outrage sexiste law would be almost impossible to enforce.

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