Rape case involving girl, 11, forces change in French law

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 14, 2017

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet spoke about the the bill and said that it is "worth considering", referring to the age of sexual consent.

Several recent cases in France have spotlighted the issue.

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. Testimony indicated he met her in a park in Montmagny, near Paris, promised to teach her to kiss and later had sexual relations with her in his apartment. In late September, an 11-year-old girl reportedly followed a 28-year-old man into his flat north of Paris, where they repeatedly engaged in sexual acts.

There was a national outcry when prosecutors did not charge him with rape, arguing that he had exhibited "no violence, no constraint, no threat, and no surprise". Without proof of coercion or violence, France only has laws against sexual abuse of a minor.

Rights group Le Voix de l'Enfant said in a statement: "The question of consent or its absence should never even be asked when it comes to rape victims who are minors".

The law in France now states: "Committing a sexual offence against a minor under the age of 15 without violence, constraint, threat or surprise is punished by five years' imprisonment and a fine of €75,000 (£66,000, $88,000)".

Marlene Schiappa, another government official, proposed that the minimum age of consent should be between 13 and 15 years old.

In this case, it's more about what the law doesn't say.

But this law doesn't take into account those under the age of 15, which is the legal age of consent - at least not for rape. Last week, the man, a Cape Verdean native, was tried by a jury court and acquitted after prosecutors, who were seeking eight years in jail for the defendant, failed to prove that the sex was non-consensual.

In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, there is an "irrefutable presumption of an absence of consent" in all sex acts against those under the age of 16.

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