After two rape cases involving 11-year-old girls became highly publicized, France has proposed introducing a legal age of sexual consent in the nation. The country’s Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the government “has decided to set the age at 15.”
In November of last year, the French court cleared a 30-year-old man of rape. 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. According to CNN, the charges another rape case involving a 28-year-old and an 11-year-old were dropped to “sexual relations with a minor.” As the call to dismantle rape culture engulfs the globe, many people have voiced their concerns with the rulings.
This change was announced as there has been a public outcry that men are evading rape charges. Current laws in France criminalize sex with children under the age of 15. In order for a rape charge to be handed down, prosecutors must prove without a doubt that the sexual act was forced.
Schiappa said in an interview with CNN that the French president has wanted to raise the age of sexual consent on any occasion. After consultations with the public, the decision has finally been made. In addressing rape culture, she told CNN, “We want to fix an age in the law below which it’s always forbidden to have sex with children, with young girls. Below which it’s always considered as a rape.”
The new law will be presented to Council of Ministers on March 21. When it goes into effect the law will set the age to which an individual cannot agree to any form of sexual intercourse at 15. Once implemented it will criminalize any sexual conduct with any minor under that age.