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It would be the first such law in France, which now does not have a rule saying a child under a certain age is considered incapable of consenting to sex.

The court found that the alleged victim was an 11-year-old girl was not subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise", before the sexual act took place.

The move was welcomed by France's equality minister, Marlène Schiappa.

After consultations with the public and the recommendations from a panel of experts, "the government has made a decision to set the age at 15", Schiappa said. In order for an incident to qualify as rape, prosecutors have to prove the victim was forced.

In another case involving an 11-year-old girl, a 28-year-old man was charged with sexual relations with a minor, rather than rape, a decision that angered the child's family.

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Schiappa said she was "very glad" that the government had chosen 15, as recommended by a panel of doctors and legal experts, an age long sought by associations fighting violence against children.

Schiappa said that the French President wanted to set the age of consent at 15 and she "had expressed the same preference on many occasions". When it goes into effect the law will set the age to which an individual can not agree to any form of sexual intercourse at 15. The court subsequently did issue a charge of rape last month, with the trial pending as they ask it to move to a higher court.

The new plans are to change the legal age of sexual consent to 15-years-old, meaning that any sex between an adult and a child of under 15 will be considered rape.

The new age limit is part of a series of laws aimed at combating sexual violence and sexism, which will be approved by the French government later this month.

Under other legal codes (including that of the United States), "forcible rape" is defined as someone forcing another into having sex against their will, while "statutory rape" is sex with someone who may have been willing, but who is not considered qualified to give legal consent because of age.


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