The French government is mulling over a new law that will reduce the age of sexual consent to 13, after two grown men were acquitted of raping two 11-year-old girls earlier this month.
French judges were unable to prosecute two adult men accused of raping two children, because they could not prove “coercion” in court. Although it is illegal to have intercourse with children under the age of 15 in France, perpetrators can only be charged with rape if prosecutors can show proof of non-consensual sex. This means that victims are often bullied into silence.
Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet this week suggested that 13 is “an age limit that is worth considering” for sexual consent as part of government policy. She also said that judges should consider whether sex with children is consensual on a “case-by-case basis”.
Activist groups protested Tuesday demanding that the age of consent be set at 15 years old. France is one of the few European countries in which intercourse with a minor is not classified as rape. If courts are unable to find evidence of violence or coercion, offenders can only receive a maximum of five years in jail and a fine. Rape, where proven, carries a much higher prison sentence.
An ongoing case caused outrage across France, when a 30-year-old Cape Verde man approached a child playing in the street in 2009, took her to a nearby park and had sex with her. Her parents went to the police only after realizing she was pregnant. However, in court the prosecution were unable to show proof of rape — namely “threat”, “violence”, “constraint”, or “surprise”, according to The Sun newspaper. The man fled to Cape Verde and managed to avoid charges until 2014 when he returned to France.
Child marriage has become a major issue in Europe since the migrant crisis began in 2015, with several Western European governments drafting new legislation to deal with the phenomenon.
Over the past two years, investigators have found evidence that child marriage is actively taking place in refugee camps in the Middle East and in Europe. Last year, reviews in Denmark and Holland found that dozens of underage girls were married to or living with grown men in asylum seeker accommodation.
According to BBC News, last year German analysts uncovered at least 1,000 marriages “where one or both parties are under the legal marriage age of 18”.
Last month, Breitbart reported that Swedish police and social workers had allowed a 14-year-old migrant child bride to live with her 25-year-old husband for several months until he was eventually arrested for rape.