France has no age-of-consent laws

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


France does not have a legal age under which a minor cannot agree to a sexual relationship – although the country’s top court has ruled that children aged five and under cannot consent. Lawyers for the suspect argued that the girl was consenting and aware of what she was doing, while lawyers for the girl have said she was simply too young and confused to resist.

…In a decision that shocked many, the prosecutor’s office in the town of Pontoise decided to put the man on trial not for rape but on charges of “sexual abuse of a minor under 15”.

The girl’s family filed a complaint of rape in the town of Montmagny but prosecutors apparently felt the suspect did not use violence or coercion. French law defines rape as sexual penetration committed “by violence, coercion, threat or surprise”.

“She was 11 years and 10 months old, so nearly 12 years old,” the defence lawyer Marc Goudarzian said Tuesday. “It changes the story. So she is not a child.”

His colleague Sandrine Parise-Heideiger went further, saying: “We are not dealing with a sexual predator on a poor little faultless goose.”

She said as soon as children have “sexual expressiveness and you have an attitude of putting yourself in danger” then “it doesn’t necessarily mean the person on the other side is a sexual predator”.

I have a friend who was curious about sex when she was 6 years old, and her parents went away for a day and left her in the care of a male babysitter, who, it turned out, was a predator. After the parents were gone, he first tried to befriend her, and then he asked her if she wanted to see him naked, and she did, because she had no brothers and she was curious what boys looked like naked. She was telling me this story 20 years later, and she still felt uncomfortable about it. I thought she summed up the situation very well: “Children need to be protected from sex, not because they have no sexual feeling, but because they are intensely curious about sex yet lack any understanding of how to manage the power differentials of these situations, or the emotions unleashed.”

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