Late last month, a French court prompted outrage when it ruled that an 11-year-old girl hadn’t been raped, but instead had consented to sex with a 28-year-old man. Children’s groups immediately denounced the decision.
In the wake of that outcome, members of Parliament are set to debate a proposed bill that would crack down on sexist or sexually-aggressive behavior, notably assault against children.
Draft legislation would establish a set age for sexual consent and increase the statue of limitations for sexual abuse claims for minors. It also includes the possibility of police action against sexist public acts like cat-calling.
Marlene Schiappa, France’s secretary for gender equality, is spearheading the effort. She said earlier this year that criminalizing everyday street harassment was one of her top priorities since such measures would send a message that such abuse is not the fault of women. Victims blaming themselves, she argues, is a prime example of “rape culture.”