You might find this hard to believe, but France has no legal age of consent. Current French law allow adults who sexually engage people under the age of 15 to be tried for the “sexual abuse of a minor,” but for the more serious charge of “rape,” the child has to prove that there was violence, threat, surprise or constraint — something that can be difficult for anyone to prove, regardless of age. As a result, two men — aged 22 and 28 — recently got acquitted of rape charges after having sex with two different 11-year-old girls because the girls couldn’t prove that they hadn’t consented. Thankfully, a France age of consent may soon become set as a result of these cases.
Three cases challenge the non-existent France age of consent
In the first case, a now-30-year-old man was accused of raping an 11-year-old girl in 2009. Her parents didn’t know until she became pregnant. She birthed the child and gave it to foster care. The man’s defense attorney alleges that the girl lied about her age, but it didn’t really matter seeing as the girl couldn’t prove that she hadn’t consented.
In the second case, an 11-year-old reportedly followed a 28-year-old man home from a public park north of Paris. She reportedly followed the man home from a park and they fucked, but because the court couldn’t find any evidence of violence, threat, surprise or constraint, they ruled that the girl had consented.
Another recent case involved a 31-year-old teacher fucking a 13-year-old female student. The student told the judge that she was in love, and so the court decided it was consensual. The girl’s mother has called her daughter “fragile and easily influenced” and adds that the young girl has been “devastated” by the alleged rape.
Why the France age of consent is a big problem, and what will happen next
The problem with these (and most) rape cases is that it can be near impossible to provide any evidence of violence, threat, surprise or constraint without physical injuries or recordings. It’s easy to manipulate children and expecting kids to provide evidence of their own assault is as ridiculous as it is barbarous.
As a result, it’s sometimes said in France that “a kid can be molested but not raped.”
Public outrage over these trials may compel French legislators to pass a national age of consent. Protestors from 20 different activists groups will gather Tuesday evening in front of France’s Ministry of Justice to call for an age of consent of 15.
In comparison, Germany and Portugal’s age of consent is 14. America’s age of consent laws vary by state, ranging from age 16 to 18, but U.S. public schools largely withhold any information about how young people should navigate the complicated interpersonal and legal realities of sex.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that he intends to establish one as part of a new law against sexual violence to go into effect early 2019.
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