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France to reassess child sex laws after controversial cases

France is to consider a change to its laws around sexual consent, according to the minister for gender equality.

BBC

Marlene Schiappa said the government was considering setting a fixed age below which sex was automatically a serious offence.

It comes after two cases where men were acquitted of raping two 11 year old girls.

In France the age of consent is 15, but prosecutors still have to prove sex was non-consensual to prove rape.

In an interview with French television programme BFM Politique, Ms Schiappa said that as a member of the government she “could not react to court decisions”, but was looking at measures where “below a certain age…that there is no debate on the sexual consent of the child”.

Despite its age of consent, France currently does not have any law which defines sex with someone below a fixed age as rape.

Currently in France if there is no violence or coercion proved, people may only be charged with sexual abuse of a minor and not rape – this has a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (£66,000; $87,000).

This is the same sentence as for sexual assault of non-minors, but punishments for rape have much harsher sentences.

Ms Schiappa said her government was debating a defined age for irrefutable non-consent, between 13 and 15, as part of a new anti-sexism and sexual violence bill to be introduced in 2018.

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