Adult sex with minors to be considered rape under French bill

PARIS – The French National Assembly passed legislation late Monday marking rape between adults and minors under 15, a move taken after years of debate and rounds of sexual abuse scandals, forcing lawmakers to gradually approach French criminal law to those of most other Western countries.

“Children are out of bounds,” said French Justice Minister Eric Dupont-Moretti. tell the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, before the vote on Monday. Under the bill, a sexual relationship with a minor under the age of 15 would be punished with 20 years in prison, unless the age gap between the corresponding partners was small.

The bill, which also contains a provision that would make incest a specific crime, will go to the Senate this month and is expected to receive final approval in April. The blood ban will also apply to sexual relations between children under 18 and their stepparents.

That legislators have agreed to determine only an age of consent three years after voting against it a similar law largely reflects the impact of a series of recent sexual abuse scandals.

In recent years, a settlement of child abuse has taken place amid the mercy of a writer who openly advocated and promoted pedophilia for decades with the support of powerful friends, amid accusations of incest against a prominent French intellectual who in January turned up. .

Recent allegations of sexual abuse against powerful figures in politics, the arts and the media that fueled new #MeToo movements have also increased the pressure on the French government to take action.

“There has been a real shift in public opinion and an awareness that there is a problem with these sexual violence cases,” said Pierre Verdrager, a sociologist who studied pedophilia, saying that France had become very aware of this issues.

Feminists have also contributed to this change in attitude, Mr. Tolerant said, and made the public aware by speaking out against sexual abuse in the arts and portraying Paris with posters exposing domestic and sexual violence.

Under French law, sex between adults and minors under the age of 15 is already prohibited, but it is not automatically considered rape. Further circumstances, such as the use of coercion, threats or violence, were necessary to characterize sexual relations as rape.

“Interrogating minors to find out if they are giving permission, even if they are 10 or 11 years old, is really a French exception,” he said. Tolerant said.

“I think this is what the legislature wants to get rid of,” he added.

France tightened laws against sex crimes in 2018 and extended the statute of limitations for rape of minors from 20 to 30 years, but lawmakers have stopped setting an age of sexual consent, citing legal complications.

Some legislators were concerned, following warnings from the French Constitutional Council, that determining an age of consent would automatically criminalize sexual relations between minors under the age of consent and a person who was only a few years older. The council is reviewing legislation to ensure it complies with the French Constitution.

In response, the new bill includes a “Romeo and Juliet” clause enabling sexual relations between children under 15 and an adult up to five years older. This clause does not apply to rape or assault cases.

“I do not want to execute an 18-year-old child because he had a consensual relationship with a girl of 14 and a half,” he said. Dupond-Moretti said.

Alexandra Louis, a French lawmaker who supports the bill, said the provisions added to the bill, such as the Romeo and Juliet clause, give her hope that the measure will be approved by the Constitutional Council.

About 300 amendments were discussed, but the bill was eventually unanimously approved in one day. Mrs. Louis said the bill “reaches consensus” and means “a historic breakthrough.”

The legislation also extends the statute of limitations for raping minors to more than 30 years in cases where the adult has raped others, and imposes a ten-year prison sentence and a fine of 150,000 euros, or about $ 180,000, for anyone convicted inciting children under the age of 15, via the internet, to commit sexual acts.

“Our job is big,” he said. Dupont-Moretti said. “It’s about changing the law to protect our children finally, completely and completely.”

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