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


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 of consent 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," prominent French feminist activist Caroline de Haas said.

"I don't know why (Belloubet) said it," added Alice Collet, a member of the National Collective for Women's Rights. "It's a sign of ignorance of the issues."

Establishing a legal age of consent is one piece of a pending bill to address sexual violence and harassment in France. The subject of sexual misconduct has drawn fresh attention worldwide since rape and sexual assault allegations were made against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

"In America with the Weinstein fallout, there have been legal investigations. But here it has been radio silence from politicians," said de Haas.

French women have increasingly been speaking out online and to police in recent weeks about past abuse, but no high-profile men in France have lost their jobs or suffered reputational damage so far.

A report Tuesday night in the newspaper Liberation detailed allegations by eight women accusing the former head of the Socialist Party's youth movement of serial harassment in 2010-2014. The alleged perpetrator, Thierry Marchal-Beck, is quoted as saying that he was "stupefied" by the accusations and threatened possible legal action. It may be too late for the women to press charges under French law.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

WATCH: 'Permit Patty' appears to call police on girl selling bottled water in viral video
WATCH: 'Permit Patty' appears to call police on girl selling bottled water in viral video

A white woman who appeared to call the police on a biracial girl selling bottled water to raise money for a Disneyland trip has gone viral, sparking the hashtag #PermitPatty. According to USA Today, the girl's mother, Erin Austin, captured the alleged phone call on video, which has been viewed millions of times since it was posted Saturday. She said...
German explosion: 25 hurt, 4 seriously, in Wuppertal blast
German explosion: 25 hurt, 4 seriously, in Wuppertal blast

At least 25 people were hurt in an explosion in Wuppertal, Germany, police said Sunday. According to The Associated Press, four victims were hurt "severely" in the blast and ensuing fire late Saturday at a "several-story building." The other victims suffered slight injuries, the AP reported.  >> Read more trending...
San Diego police shooting: 2 officers injured, suspect dead
San Diego police shooting: 2 officers injured, suspect dead

Two police officers reportedly were shot and injured late Saturday in San Diego, California.  Update 1:43 a.m. PDT June 24: KNSD’s Omari Fleming reports that investigators are unsure whether the suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or was killed by officers. KSWB’s Andrew Luria tweeted that &ldquo...
2-year-old trapped under rock pile survived, thanks to cop with background as stone mason
2-year-old trapped under rock pile survived, thanks to cop with background as stone mason

A two-year old trapped under a massive pile of rocks in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was released from the hospital Saturday, thanks to a police officer with a unique talent. >> Read more trending news  It turned out the responding Portsmouth officer, T.J. Potter, had previous experience as a professional stone mason and specialized in historical...
17-year-old twin sister shot, killed in road rage incident, police arrest suspect
17-year-old twin sister shot, killed in road rage incident, police arrest suspect

Metro Atlanta police have made an arrest in the shooting death of a teenage girl in a possible road rage incident Wednesday at a busy intersection in Dacatur. >> Read more trending news  Janae Owens, 17, was in a car with her mother at a red light Wednesday evening when police said a man in a black car opened fire, killing Owens...
More Stories