France’s lower house of parliament unanimously adopted a bill which protects minor from sexual crimes and sexual abuse by relatives. The bill sets the age of consent at 15 and outlaws incestual relations. Punishment up to 20 years will be given to those who have sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of 15. While the existing law outlawed sex with a child but to punish the act under rape laws that is to give harsher punishment it is required to prove that such an act is done with the use of force, threat, violence or surprise and the consent of the child is not there.
The bill also penalizes individuals who encourage or incite children to commit sexual acts over the internet, the punishment will be up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros.
A “Romeo and Juliet” provision would protect intimate sexual relations between partners with a five-year age difference as an exception. This provision was introduced after some legislators raised fears that enacting a blanket law would criminalize legal sexual interactions between children under the age of 15 and adults a few years older. However, some legislators were against the provision citing the five year age gap being too wide.
The bill has now been adopted by both the houses.