French lawmakers veto plan to introduce age of consent
France's parliament has passed a law to tighten laws on child rape but sparked ire among rights groups by dropping an earlier plan to set a legal age of sexual consent.
The bill followed outrage over two recent court cases in which prosecutors refused to try two men for the rape of 11-year-old girls because there was no proof of coercion.
It was narrowly passed in the National Assembly thanks to support from President Emmanuel Macron's ruling LREM party. But after a heated debate, MPs decided to stop short of creating what would have been France's first law on a legal age below which a minor cannot agree to a sexual relationship with an adult. The proposal had been to set the age at 15.
Instead, they created a new offence of "sexual violation of a minor by penetration", punishable by 10 years in prison. That is a shorter sentence than the 15 to 20 years reserved for rape.
The new offence states that relations between an adult and a minor of 15 or younger can be classified as rape if there is "abuse of the victim's vulnerability" and if she or he "lacks the necessary discernment to consent". The law must now pass through the Senate.