Paris, March 7 (IANS) France plans to fix the legal age of sexual consent as 15, meaning sex with someone younger than that would be considered rape.
Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa welcomed the move, which follows advice from doctors and legal experts, BBC reported.
Currently, prosecutors must prove sex with someone under 15 was forced in order to bring rape charges. The change comes amid uproar over two recent cases of men accused of having sex with 11-year-old girls.
Under the existing legislation, if there is no violence or coercion proved, offenders may only be charged with sexual abuse of a minor and not rape. This has a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $87,000.
The government is to approve the new age limit as part of a package of other laws against sexual violence and harassment in the coming weeks. It had been discussing whether to set the age as 13 or 15, which is what groups fighting violence against children had campaigned for.
Last November, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of rape after a court determined his 11-year-old victim had not been subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise".