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French minister calls for new laws after acquittals in underage rape cases

French minister calls for new laws after acquittals in underage rape cases”

The bill, if adopted, will set a benchmark in French law on sexual violence, as it will for the first time define the age limit under which any sexual intercourse with a minor is legally considered rape.

According to AP News, Nicole Belloubet, the justice minister of France, said making 13 the age of consent was "worth considering".

At the moment, it is illegal to have sex with someone under the age of 15 in France but ministers are proposing an additional law, similar to one in the United Kingdom, which regards any adult who has sex with a child under the age of 13 as a rapist, regardless of whether they used force or coercion.

The French government is considering steps to introduce statutory rape laws after a court controversially deemed that an 11-year-old girl had "consented" to having sex with a 28-year-old man.

The age of consent in the US varies state by state, but is usually set at around 17 years old to 20 years old. Last week, the man, a Cape Verdean native, was tried by a jury court and acquitted after prosecutors, who were seeking eight years in jail for the defendant, failed to prove that the sex was non-consensual.

Like the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands also have statutory rape laws, which presume that people below a certain age can not consent to sex even if they are not coerced into it.

"The question of the age below which the minor's consent is presumed not to exist is crucial, because there are obviously extremely shocking and unacceptable situations", Belloubet said.

Following the encounter, the girl, who is of Congolese descent, became pregnant and subsequently gave birth to a baby which her family chose to place in foster care out of fear of being condemned in the community.

There was a national outcry when prosecutors did not charge him with rape, arguing that he had exhibited "no violence, no constraint, no threat, and no surprise". The law only says that an adult who performs a sexual act with a person under the age of 15 "without violence, coercion, threat or surprise" can be prosecuted for "sexual abuse", not rape. The penalty is identical to the same crime against adults.

Earlier Monday, French police said they have seen a rise in reports of sexual violence and harassment amid the growing global fallout from the accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The official wasn't authorized to be publicly named. Figures for cities weren't immediately available, but the gendarme data come as French women are increasingly speaking out online about past sexual abuse following US revelations.



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