France to peg legal age of sexual consent at 15

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France to peg legal age for sexual consent at 15

France plans to fix the legal age of sexual consent as 15, so that an adult who has sex with someone younger than that will be charged with rape.

Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa welcomed the move with  advice from doctors and legal experts.

Currently, prosecutors must prove sex with someone under-15 was forced in order to bring rape charges.

The change came amid uproar over two recent cases of men accused of having sex with 11-year-old girls.

The government is to approve the new age limit as part of a package of other laws against sexual violence and harassment in the coming weeks.

It had been discussing whether to set the age as 13 or 15, which is what groups fighting violence against children had campaigned for.

Under the existing legislation, if there is no violence or coercion proved, offenders 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).

Sentences are the same for sexual assaults of minors and non-minors, but rape convictions carry much harsher punishments.

Ms Schiappa told AFP news agency that she was “very glad” that the higher age was chosen. The limit is also supported by President Emmanuel Macron.

Minister of Solidarity and Health Agnès Buzyn said setting a legal age of sexual consent would allow a “collective awareness” and that everyone would see what was “legal and illegal”, Le Figaro newspaper reports

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Biola Lawal

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