French lawmakers gave final approval on Thursday to legislation on the minimum age for sexual consent to 15, following a wave of allegations of sexual assault and incest described as France’s second #MeToo movement.
At a second reading of the bill, MEPs voted unanimously to align France’s consent laws with most other Western countries.
According to the law, sex with children under the age of 15 is considered rape, which can be punished with up to 20 years in prison, unless there is a slight age difference between the two parties.
The bill also makes it illegal for an adult to have sex with a relative under the age of 18.
Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti said the vote sent a clear message: “Children are out of bounds.”
Under current French law, prosecutors had to prove that a minor was forced, threatened or deceived to have sex with an adult in order to accuse of rape or sexual abuse.
The bill was initiated by members of the Senate, who proposed that the age of consent be 13, which would have been one of the lowest in Europe.
But President Emmanuel Macron’s government pushed for it to be elevated.
>> “Finally”: France tries to set age for consent at 15 years
However, the bill allows sex between a teenager and a young adult up to five years older – a gap that has been criticized by some MEPs as too large but which Dupond-Moretti defended, saying he did not want to “put a 18-year-old on trial because he had the consent of a girl of fourteen and a half years. “
The law also violates online pedophilia, where anyone caught trying to take care of children under the age of 15 for sexual acts over the internet faces up to ten years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros (180,000 dollars).
The issue of consent has been repeatedly discussed since 2018 when it turned out that a 28-year-old man, who had sex with an 11-year-old girl he met in a park, had originally been accused of a minor sexual crime. , not rape.
The case caused a public outcry in France, where sex between adults and minors in the past has often been dismissed as harmless in cases where the meeting was presented as a consensus, usually by the adult.
Thursday’s vote comes on the heels of an incest scandal that has brought down one of France’s most prominent intellectuals after he was accused of sexually abusing his stepson.
Olivier Duhamel, a former head of France’s leading political science institute and a regular expert on French television, had been accused by his daughter-in-law Camille Kouchner of abusing his twin brother when they were in their early teens.
Duhamel admitted the accusations on Tuesday in an interview with a special police unit that investigates crimes committed against minors, sources close to the investigation told AFP.
( Jowharwith AFP)