France Looks to Set Age of Consent to 15

Previously, French defendants accused of sexual assault of a minor could cite consent as a way to lessen their sentencing. Though sex with anyone under the age of 15 is illegal, the lack of an age of consent could be used as a way around harsh punishments. French officials are looking to draw a hard line beyond which all sexual activity will be considered non-consensual.

An act of sexual penetration by an adult on a minor under 15 will be considered a rape,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said on France-2 television on February 9. 

Previous efforts to set the age of consent in France have failed. A recent scandal accusing former European Parliament member and prominent political scientist Olivier Duhamel of incest have reignited the campaign. Duhamel’s stepdaughter accused him of abusing her and her twin brother when they were children. After the story broke, French people began sharing their own stories under the hashtag #MeTooInceste.

France is also looking to remove the statute of limitations on prosecuting perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse. The current law states that cases can be brought until the victim is 48 years old. Advocates argue that the long timeline of coming to grips with childhood sexual trauma should take precedence over the typical time limits on criminal accusations.


Austria’s age of consent is 14, with certain exceptions based on relationships that can lower it as far as 13.


The age of consent in Denmark is 15, with a notable exception for anyone who is believed to be in a position of authority over the minor in question.


The age of consent in the country of Georgia is the same as the US state of Georgia. The Eastern European country set their age of consent at 16.


The Republic of Ireland sets the age of consent at 17. Along with the country of Cyprus, this is the highest age of consent in the European Union.

United Kingdom

The age of consent is different in the six counties across the border from the Republic of Ireland. As part of the United Kingdom, its age of consent is 16.

The Philippines

Moving away from Europe, there are some countries with incredibly low ages of consent. The Philippines sets their age of consent at 12 years old.


The age of consent in Japan is 13. It shares this low limit with South Korea. However, Japan’s laws are incredibly complex on the issue and vary wildly by what part of the country a person is in.


Mexico shares its age of consent with Ireland and Cyprus, deeming all sexual activity under the age of 16 to be nonconsensual.


Bahrain has the highest age of consent in the world. The country’s laws set the age at which people can consent to sex at 21.


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