France to fix legal age of sexual consent as 15

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France's government plans on setting a formal age of sexual consent after a public outcry over two cases of sex involving 11-year-old girls, equality minister Marlène Schiappa said on Monday.

In October 2017, she told CNN that she wanted to address rape culture.

Currently, France does not have a rule saying a child under a certain age is considered incapable of consenting to sex. The move by France follows advice from doctors and legal experts.

It would be the first such law in France, which now does not have a rule saying a child under a certain age is considered incapable of consenting to sex.

Sexual abuse of a minor carries at most five years in prison and a fine equivalent to $93,000 in the USA, while rape of a minor carries 20 years imprisonment.

In a similar case, also involving an 11-year-old girl, a man who was 28 at the time of the alleged offense faced lesser charges of sexual relations with a minor, but not rape.

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In November, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of raping an 11-year-old girl because the court said there had been "no violence, coercion, threat or surprise".

When a conviction is successful, the punishment - a 20-year jail sentence - is much harsher than in cases where the victim is not a minor.

The new age limit is set to be approved by the government in a couple of weeks as part of package of other laws against sexual violence and harassment after discussing whether to set the age as 13 or 15, which is what groups fighting violence against children had campaigned for.

But the same court reversed its decision last month, saying the accused should indeed face rape charges.

If the child is under 15 years of age, the new law will put the onus on the adult to prove the minor gave consent, instead of expecting the victim to prove they were threatened, coerced, or surprised.

The law, once implemented, will set the age at which a person can not agree to any sexual intercourse at 15 and will criminalize any sexual activity with any minor younger than that age, had passed after public consultation and expert recommendation.