Justice could soon be around the corner for victims of sexual abuse in France. The European nation announced this week they intend to establish a legal age of consent for the first time. It is an important step in prosecuting sexual predators, something made difficult with the previous absence of an age of consent.
The country will set the age of consent at 15. While not officially in law yet, the Justice Ministry has ensured “the government is determined to act quickly to implement the changes that our society expects.”
The lack of an age of consent has halted prosecution of sexual predators for years. While the law as currently written bans sexual relations between a minor under the age of 15 and an adult, it also accepts the possibility of someone under 15 capable of giving consent. This has resulted in many adults being prosecuted for sexual assault rather than rape, receiving a lighter sentence. The age of consent will close this loophole.
The country is also considering changes to the statute of limitations. Currently, child victims are able to file complaints until the age of 48.
The announcement is seen as long overdue to many. Previous efforts to establish an age of consent over the past few years, particularly following the MeToo movement, failed to come to fruition. With the Justice Ministry’s announcement, it seems this time is different.