France: creation of a new sexual crime against minors under 13

On Thursday, at first reading, the French Senate unanimously adopted a bill to create a new sexual crime to protect minors under 13 years of age, while the government announced consultations with associations.

The issue is in the spotlight after the revelation of the case Olivier Duhamel, a renowned political scientist, accused by his daughter-in-law Camille Kouchner of raping his twin brother when they were teenagers in the 80s.

For the author of the bill, Annick Billon, it is a question of imposing in the law โ€œa new prohibition: that of sexual intercourse with a minor under 13 years of ageโ€, without questioning the question of consent.

The new offence would be constituted in case of sexual penetration of any kind, if the perpetrator knew or could not ignore the age of the victim.

โ€œThis text was not elaborated in response to the political and media deflagration caused by Camille Kouchners book, but this book (…) offers the legislator the opportunity to position itself clearly,โ€ said Billon.

She urged the government to take up this text and put it quickly on the agenda of the National Assembly.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti announced โ€œa consultation workโ€ of associations โ€œwhich participate in the daily liberation of speech and in the care and defense of victimsโ€.

He will be engaged โ€œnext weekโ€ with the Secretary of State for Children and Families, Adrien Taquet.

This is not a โ€œdilatoryโ€ manoeuvre, said Dupond-Moretti, but โ€œimportant questions remain,โ€ including the age threshold.

The proposed law also provides for strengthening the protection of young people between the ages of 13 and 15. The age threshold at 13 years for non-consent is considered insufficient by the child protection associations, which push it to be raised to 15 years.

The issue of prescription is another delicate point. The statute aligns the limitation period with that of rape, i.e. 30 years from the majority of the victim. The Senate rejected amendments to make them not subject to limitation or to extend that time limit.

In the wake of the Duhamel case and the hashtag #Metooinceste, the Senate did not escape a debate on incest.

It rejected an amendment, in the case of incest, to set the age threshold for the new crime set out in the draft law at 18 years, but supported a strengthening of the penalty for incestuous sexual abuse of minors.