Is a 13-year-old girl old enough to agree to sex with an adult? That's a question France is asking itself as the government prepares to set a legal age for sexual consent for the first time, the AP reports. Twice in recent weeks, French courts refused to prosecute grown men for rape after they had sex with 11-year-olds because authorities couldn't prove coercion. Amid public horror, the government is drafting a bill to say sex with children under a certain age is by definition coercive. Feminist groups plan a protest Tuesday to argue the age should be set at 15. Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet says 13 "is worth considering." The age is just one piece of an upcoming bill on sexual violence and harassment.
As France24 explains, it is illegal in France to have sex with someone younger than 15, but it's only considered sexual abuse. Prosecutors must be able to prove a lack of consent in order for it to be considered rape—because there is no minimum age under which, by law, a child is considered to be legally unable to give consent. One of the men referenced above, for example, was tried for sexual abuse instead of rape due to France's current legal definition of rape, PBS NewsHour reports. "The law will mean that 'below a certain age, there can be no debate, ever, on the sexual consent of a child, and that any child below a certain age would automatically be considered as raped or sexually assaulted,'" the country's equalities minister explains, per the Local.