France has finally brought its laws against sex with children in line with those of most other Western nations. Under a bill that was unanimously approved by the National Assembly Thursday, children under 15 can no longer be considered to have consented to sex, reports Reuters. Under the previous law, prosecutors had to prove that the sex was non-consensual before rape charges could be filed. The bill, which had already passed the country's Senate, also makes it illegal for an adult to have sex with a relative under 18, France24 reports. "Children are off-limits," said Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti.
Senate lawmakers initially suggested the age of consent be set at 13, but President Emmanuel Macron pushed for it to be higher. The final version of the bill included a "Romeo and Juliet" clause allowing sex between minors and people up to five years older. The bill follows a #MeToo reckoning and a series of high-profile scandals in France. "There has been a real shift in the public opinion and an awareness that there is a problem with these sexual violence cases," sociologist Pierre Verdrager told the New York Times after the bill was introduced last month. "Questioning minors to know if they were consenting even if they were 10 or 11 years old is really a French exception," he said. (Read more France stories.)