The French Senate will definitively vote on the bill setting the age of consent at 15 years

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The French Senate is due to vote next week on a bill setting the age of sexual consent at 15, after the National Assembly unanimously approved the text on the protection of minors against sexual violence.

In the early hours of Tuesday, the lower house of parliament voted 67 votes in favor of legislation that aims to strengthen the protection of minors – including setting the age of sexual consent with an adult at 15 years.

Any sexual act below this age would be considered non-consensual and a criminal offense.

Prison sentences for incest convictions would be increased to 18 years. The sentence is 20 years for rape, whether it is incest or not.

Testimonials once again in the spotlight

The legislation – consisting largely of 300 government-rewritten amendments – now returns to the Senate for a final vote on March 25.

Ministry of Justice Eric Dupond Moretti welcomed the vote of the National Assembly, declaring that henceforth, “no adult can avail himself of the consent of a minor”.

“Children are prohibited,” he said.

Testimonies from victims of exploitation of minors and incest were recently highlighted under the hashtag “#Metooinceste”, which exposed a subject long considered taboo in France.


“Romeo and Juliet” clause

The legislation also hopes to avoid criminalizing the legitimate links forged at the dawn of adolescence and adulthood.

A so-called “Romeo and Juliet” clause adds a provision according to which sanctions only apply if “the age difference between the adult and the minor (under 15) is at least five years”.

New provisions of the text aim to fight against “sextortion”, where minors are encouraged to engage in sexual practices on the Internet.

The bill is expected to be passed and come into force before the summer, as the government calls for it to be made operational as soon as possible.


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