French authorities are considering changing the law to lower the age of sexual consent to just 13, “because teenagers needed to have sexual intercourse”, a medical expert for the government told BFM-TV.
It follows a case that saw a 28-year-old man acquitted of a raping an 11-year-old girl as relations were deemed to be “consensual”.
A local court in Seine-et-Marne acquitted the alleged rapist this week. The alleged rape occurred in August 2009, said Laure Habeneck, the lawyer of the girl, now 20 years old.
She had visited a park with a man, 22 years old at the time, who had approached her while playing in the Champs-sur-Marne (Seine-et-Marne). They had sexual intercourse, according to the accused. The latter claims that the girl had lied about her age, telling him, according to his lawyer, Samir Mbarki, “she was 14 years old and was about to turn 15”. The girl contested his version.
The girl’s family had learned of the facts in 2010, discovering her pregnancy. Her child, 7 years old today, was placed in a foster home.
“For my client,” this verdict “is a second trauma,” said her lawyer, Habeneck. “I do not understand it.”
But Mbarki rejected her statement. “It is up to the legislator to change the law, it is neither the lawyer nor the accused to bear the responsibility for this legal failure.”
An appeal has been lodged against the verdict which has revived the debate on the minimum age of consent to a sexual act, promised by the government in 2018.
“The question of the age below which the minor’s consent is presumed is crucial, because there are obviously extremely shocking and unacceptable situations,” said Justice Minister Belloubet. “Thirteen years is a possible limit.
“The judge must also be able to assess individual situations, but the age of 13 could be retained,” Belloubet added.