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Girls & Women

France Wants to Make Sex With Minors Under 13 Rape in All Circumstances

In France, two disturbing sexual assault cases in which adult men had sex with 11-year-old girls are grabbing headlines and potentially forcing real political change. 

On Saturday, a 30-year-old man who had sex with an 11-year-old when he was 22 was acquitted on rape charges because the court found no evidence of “threat or violence,” BBC reports. This follows a similar case from September, in which a 28-year-old was acquitted on rape charges of an 11-year-old for the same reason. 

Now, French Minister for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa is calling on the government to amend its rape and sexual assault laws as part of a new sexual violence bill. 

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The new law would ensure that “any child below a certain age would automatically be considered as raped or sexually assaulted," Schiappa said, according to The Local. 

This age would be fixed at either 15 or 13-years-old. 

Although the legal age of consent in France is currently set at 15, prosecutors must prove that sex is “non-consensual” in order to bring rape charges, even for individuals below the legal age. Sexual abuse of a minor that does not involve violence or coercion, while illegal, carries a much lighter sentence than rape — up to five years prison time or a fine of 75,000 euros. 

Read More: France's Version of the #MeToo Campaign Emerges: #SquealOnYourPig

Schiappa’s statements come in the wake of an intense debate in France over what many view as antiquated sexual assault laws

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In late October, an estimated 2,500 women marched in Paris and other French cities to bring light to sexual assault in the country. According to at least one study, more than half of French women report having been sexually assaulted in their lives. According to another, fewer than 10% of reported sexual assault cases lead to a conviction. 

Along with setting a clear minimum age for rape cases, France’s new sexual assault bill would also lengthen the amount of time minors have to report rape cases — from 20 to 30 years after reaching the age of 18.

Advocates are planning to pass a draft of the bill in the first half of 2018, according to the Guardian.