This Thursday, April 15, the French Parliament adopted a law strengthening the protection of minors against sexual violence. This law therefore sets the age of consent at 15 years. The text enshrines an age of sexual non-consent into the penal code.
Below this age, a child is therefore considered non-consenting to a sexual act with an adult. When it comes to incest, this threshold is set at 18 years old.
A 'Romeo and Juliet' clause
According to information from France Info, a 'Romeo and Juliet' provision was created to avoid penalizing 'adolescent love' freely consented to. This clause is dubbed 'Romeo and Juliet' in reference to the age difference of the teen couple in Shakespeare's eponymous tragedy.
Incestuous rape is now punishable by 20 years of prison time. Incestuous sexual assault is set at 10 years of prison time. Incest can be committed by an older family member, a brother, a sister, an uncle, an aunt, a nephew, a niece, a great-uncle, a great-aunt, or by the spouse, the common law partner or the PACS (civil solidarity pact) partner of one of those people.
Sex work, 'sextortion' and exhibitionism
When it comes to clients of sex workers under the age of fifteen, they fall within the scope of the provisions punishing any sexual act on a young person under this age.
People who have relations with minors aged 15 to 18 see their sentences rise from three years' imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros, up to five years and 75,000 euros (£39,000 and £65,000 respectively).
One of the articles mentions 'sextortion.' The term is used for a predator who incites a minor into engaging in sexual practices on the internet to obtain the images. Sexual exhibition means an aggravating circumstance if the victim is a minor under 15 years of age.