ShareThis Page

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

| Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 3:18 p.m.
Activists hold a banner reading: Still feminists during a a protest in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet provoked consternation and dismay among feminist groups by saying a legal minimum age of 13 for sexual consent 'is worth considering.'
AP Photo/Christophe Ena
Activists hold a banner reading: Still feminists during a a protest in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet provoked consternation and dismay among feminist groups by saying a legal minimum age of 13 for sexual consent 'is worth considering.'

PARIS — Is a 13-year-old girl old enough to agree to sex with an adult? That's a question France is asking itself 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-olds because authorities couldn't prove coercion. Amid the public horror at that 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 and dismay among feminist groups 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 two cases that rocked the country.

“We want the law to guarantee that before 15 there can be no concept of consent,” said prominent French feminist activist Caroline de Haas.

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

A legal age of consent is just one piece of an upcoming French bill on sexual violence and harassment that's gained importance amid worldwide concerns unleashed by the rape and sexual assault allegations 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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.