Prosecutors say girl, 11, agreed to sex with adult
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.