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France to set age of sexual consent at 15 after rape outcry

France's government has proposed setting a formal age of sexual consent after two-high profile cases involving 11-year-old girls, according to the country's Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa.

France’s government has proposed setting a formal age of sexual consent after two-high profile cases involving 11-year-old girls, according to the country’s Equality Minister.

Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the “government has decided to set the age at 15,” after consultations with the public and an expert panel, according to French news agency AFP.

In France, current laws criminalize sex with children under the age of 15 but prosecutors must prove that the sexual act was forced.

Two cases involving the 11-year-old girls provoked outrage in France after the alleged perpetrators were acquitted of rape.

In November a 30-year-old man was cleared of rape after the court found that the victim had not been subjected to “constraint, threat, violence or surprise.”

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.

Schiappa told the news agency that she was “very glad” that the age limit decided by the government was 15.

The law, once implemented, will set the age at which a person cannot agree to any sexual intercourse at 15 and will criminalize any sexual activity with any minor younger than that age, had passed after public consultation and expert recommendation.

Lawmakers hope the proposal, which is part of a bill aimed at reducing sexual violence will be implemented in the coming weeks, AFP reports.

The new laws will be presented to the Council of Ministers — France’s equivalent of a cabinet — later in March, reports say.