Pros­e­cu­tors say girl, 11, agreed to sex with adult

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD - PARIS:

French MPs are de­mand­ing changes to the law on child rape af­ter pros­e­cu­tors ruled that an 11-year-old girl had con­sented to sex with a man aged 28.

MPs tabled bills to cre­ate a min­i­mum age for con­sent amid out­rage over the treat­ment of the girl, known by the pseu­do­nym Sarah. Her par­ents re­ported to po­lice at Pon­toise, north of Paris, that she had been raped by a man she had met on her way home from school.

Pub­lic out­rage greeted the de­ci­sion by pros­e­cu­tors to try the man for sex­u­ally abus­ing a mi­nor un­der 15, which at­tracts far less se­ri­ous penal­ties.

The girl had not ob­jected to hav­ing sex with the man af­ter she fol­lowed him to his flat and she had also vol­un­tar­ily per­formed oral sex on him, they said. The pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued it was ev­i­dence of con­sent that she had not cried, shouted or re­sisted. “There was nei­ther vi­o­lence, con­straint, threat nor sur­prise,” they said.

The girl’s par­ents told po­lice that she had been dev­as­tated by the at­tack and had sub­mit­ted to the man be­cause she had been frozen in shock. Sarah told doc­tors who ex­am­ined her: “I thought he was go­ing to hit me if I said no ... I was blocked. I couldn’t run away ... He seemed kind but he could have been nasty.”

The case, which goes to court in Fe­bru­ary, has ex­posed a gap in French law which does not in­clude the prin­ci­ple a child can­not be deemed to con­sent to sex with an adult. “It is un­think­able that ques­tions are still asked about the con­sent of young chil­dren in the case of sex­ual re­la­tions with adults,” said Coun­cil for Equal­ity Between Women and Men pres­i­dent Danielle Bous­quet. “Th­ese acts are rape and must be judged as such.” The coun­cil rec­om­mended last year the min­i­mum age for con­sent be set at 13.

Edouard Du­rand, a judge and co-chair­man of the equal­ity coun­cil’s vi­o­lence com­mit­tee, said “no child is able to en­vis­age the con­se­quences of such an act”.

MP Beren­gere Po­letti has tabled a bill un­der which any sex­ual pen­e­tra­tion of a child un­der 14 would con­sti­tute rape. The thresh­old would be 16 in the case of an adult hav­ing author­ity over the child, such as a teacher.

Lawyers for the 28-year-old man, a lo­cal res­i­dent with two chil­dren, de­scribed the girl as look­ing much older than her age. He faces a five-year max­i­mum sen­tence if con­victed.

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