The French government has proposed a law to set 15 as the age of consent for sex following two high-profile cases in which men escaped rape convictions despite having intercourse with 11-year-old girls.
Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa told reporters that "the government has chose to set the age at 15", after widespread criticism broke out against the laws that allowed two men to escape rape charges following sexual misconduct with underage girls.
This issue came into the French public consciousness with two cases from previous year.
In November, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of the rape of an 11-year-old girl after the court determined she had not been subjected to "constraint, threat, violence or surprise".
This change was announced as there has been a public outcry that men are evading rape charges.
It is worth noting that this is, in some ways, merely an extension of existing French law; under current regulations, an adult who performs a sexual act with someone younger than fifteen can be charged with a sexual offense. After consultations with the public, the decision has finally been made.
"We want to fix an age in the law below which it's always forbidden to have sex with children, with young girls. Below which it's always considered as a rape". She said a new law would be presented to the Council of Ministers - France's equivalent of a Cabinet - on March 21, according to local media reports.
The UK has no prosecution time limit for serious sexual offences, whereas in France for sexual offences against children the victim may take legal action up to age 38 if they were aged under 15 at the time, or 28 if aged 15-18.
If the child is under 15 years of age, the new law will put the onus on the adult to prove the minor gave consent, instead of expecting the victim to prove they were threatened, coerced, or surprised.
Once approved by Parliament, the new law is expected to go into effect within the next few weeks as part of a broader package of laws aimed at reducing sexual violence and harassment. Shiappa and French president Emanuel Macron had been considering the change since October 2017.