Current legislation criminalises sex with a child under the age of 15-years-old, but with the caveat that prosecutors must also prove that the sexual act was forced.
In November, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of the rape of an 11-year-old girl after the court determined she had not been subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise". The move by France follows advice from doctors and legal experts.
The government's women's affairs office said today that it has made a decision to set the threshold at 15 in a bill to be presented to parliament later this month. She said a new law would be presented to France's equivalent of a cabinet on March 21.
In the other case, charges against a 28-year-old man, also accused of raping an 11-year-old girl, were downgraded to "sexual relations with a minor", according to the AFP report. Instead, the men were charged with sexual abuse of a minor, a lesser charge. In addressing rape culture, she told CNN, "We want to fix an age in the law below which it's always forbidden to have sex with children, with young girls". This decision comes after two high-profile cases of rape involving 11 year-old girls which has sparked outrage throughout the land.
This new law will effectively create a new threshold, which will criminalize sexual activity with a minor under 15, as well as a legal assumption that the child was coerced.
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"The Bill will contain a clause stating an age limit below which it will always be deemed that a child was forced", Schiappa said, supporting the reform.
Outcry over the latest cases led to calls for an age to be set below which all sex is seen as non-consenting and therefore rape (this is 13 in the UK).
"But last month the court reversed course and said the [28-year-old] man should indeed face rape charges, though it asked for the trial to be moved to a higher court".
Once approved by Parliament, the new law is expected to go into effect within the next few weeks as part of a broader package of laws aimed at reducing sexual violence and harassment.