France Considers Setting Sexual Age Of Consent At 15 To Fight Child Sex Abuse

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The French government is considering setting the age of sexual consent to 15 in order to prosecute claims of sexual abuse against children by parental and authority figures, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

France currently does not have an established age of consent, which combined with statutes of limitations makes it difficult for victims to make a case years after the abuse, according to the AP. The French Justice Ministry said that such actions against children are “intolerable” and that it will “act quickly to implement the changes that our society expects.”

“An act of sexual penetration by an adult on a minor under 15 will be considered a rape,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said, the AP reported.

Exceptions would be made in cases where teenagers consent to sexual relations, according to the AP. The established age of consent is intended to revoke assailants from using consent as a way to lessen charges raised against them.

“It’s very good that there is this revived debate, that there is an idea of a minimum age (of consent). … This will make adults more responsible,” said Fatima Benomar, an advocate for stricter laws against people who abuse children, the AP reported.

Tens of thousands shared their experiences with sexual abuse by a parent or guardian as a child in an online #MeToo campaign in France after accusations were made against French political expert Olivier Duhamel last month, the AP reported.

The Justice Ministry will hear from victims groups on how to approach laws regarding sexual abuse against children, such as the statute of limitations since it can take time for victims to come forward due to deep trauma caused by the abuse, the AP reported. Under current law, victims can file complaints until they are 48.

The ministry may broaden the scope of the law “to ensure that victims of the same perpetrator do not receive different legal treatment,” so those accused of abusing multiple children over several years could be prosecuted equally, the AP reported.

France attempted to set an age of consent three years ago during the global #MeToo movement, though failed after several legal complications, according to the AP.

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