Verdict in child sex case draws criticism

sexual abuse

According to TheLocal.fr, prosecutors have labeled a sexual relationship between an 11-year-old girl and a 28-year-old man consensual.

Children's rights advocates are distressed by the ruling.

The encounter took place in April, in a suburb of Paris. According to officials, the man convinced the girl to leave with him from a park in Montmagny. He reportedly said he would teach her about kissing. However, he had sex with her instead.

While the girl's family and attorneys believed the man should have been charged with rape, he was only charged with the sexual abuse of a minor.

The prosecutors argued they could not file rape charges because “there was no violence, no constraint, no threat, and no surprise." In effect, they concluded the girl consented because she did not physically resist.

The girl's mother said she did not fight back because "[s]he thought it was too late, that she didn’t have the right to protest, that it wouldn’t make any difference, so she went into auto pilot, without emotion and without reaction.”

One expert told Le Figaro that in rape cases, “submitting was not consenting." The expert explained that the shock of the crime can cause victims - especially child victims - to "switch off."

Le Voix de l'Enfant, a children's rights group, issued a statement condemning the prosecutors and arguing that the issue of consent is not relevant in sexual assault cases involving minors.

In countries like Germany, Spain, and the U.K., there are laws stating that minors below a certain age cannot legally consent. France does not have such a law, but some advocates are now calling for a similar standard.

According to the current French penal code, “Committing a sexual offense against a minor under the age of 15 without violence, constraint, threat or surprise is punished by five years' imprisonment and a fine of €75,000."

The trial will begin in February of next year.

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