When child sex isn’t rape: French to set age of con­sent

West Hawaii Today - - Nation & World -

PARIS — Is a 13-year-old old enough to agree to sex with an adult? That’s a ques­tion France is ask­ing as the gov­ern­ment pre­pares to set a le­gal age for sex­ual con­sent for the first time.

Twice in re­cent weeks, French courts have re­fused to pros­e­cute men for rape af­ter they had sex with 11-year-old girls be­cause au­thor­i­ties couldn’t prove co­er­cion. Amid the pub­lic dis­be­lief over the sit­u­a­tion, the French gov­ern­ment is draft­ing a bill to say that sex with chil­dren un­der a cer­tain age is by def­i­ni­tion co­er­cive.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Nicole Bel­lou­bet pro­voked con­ster­na­tion among fem­i­nist groups Mon­day by say­ing a le­gal min­i­mum age of 13 for sex­ual con­sent “is worth con­sid­er­ing.”

Ac­tivists staged a small protest Tues­day in cen­tral Paris to ar­gue that the age should be set at 15. Pro­test­ers waved plac­ards that read “for him im­punity, for her a life sen­tence” in ref­er­ence to the re­cent cases.

“We want the law to guar­an­tee that be­fore 15 there can be no con­cept of con­sent,” French fem­i­nist ac­tivist Caro­line de Haas said.

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