12 Mar 2018

Court ruling triggers new law about sexual consent

On March 5, France’s equality minister, Marlène Schiappa, announced the country will set the legal age of sexual consent at 15. Schiappa believes the measure will help fight violence against children.

Roxanne D'Arco
Roxanne D'Arco NewsMavens, France
Source: L'Express
Court ruling triggers new law about sexual consent - NewsMavens
Anti- teen pregnancy poster. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Sexual consent has been hotly debated in France these last months. 

Many citizens expressed concern about child marriages, and many others pointed out that, even after MeToo, consent is still an ill-defined concept. But first and foremost, the French were concerned after a a court acquitted a 30-year-old man of rape charges against an 11-year-old girl in November 2017.

Back then, the case was not classified as a rape because the court found that the girl had not experienced "constraint, threat, violence or surprise," but under the new law, such loopholes will no longer be applicable.

It is reassuring that politicians did not turn a blind eye to the enormous outrage that followed the ruling. Things are not perfect, but France is evolving, it seems.

family, violence, politics, women's issues

Details from the story:

  • On 5 March 2018 France’s equality minister, Marlène Schiappa announced that the age of sexual consent in France would be fixed at 15. 
  • Previously, there was no fixed age for consent.
  • Last November, an adult man escaped rape charges and was only sentenced for sex with a minor. The girl involved was 11, and didn’t explicitly say "no" to the man. 
  • A few days ago, an investigation over rape charges was re-opened for the case. 
  • Public outrage was the main driving force behind the new legislation.
  • France is talking more and more openly about consent, not only for minors. 
  • Experts generally recommend to set the age of consent in the range of 13 to 15 years.
  • Sexual consent in France has been set at 15 after open national consultations and experts reports to the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe. 
  • This bill will be presented as a part of a larger law project against domestic and sexual violence during the Ministers Council on March 21. 
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