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MPs unanimous to strengthen the protection of minors

The National Assembly voted unanimously on the night of Monday to Tuesday, in first reading, a text strengthening the protection of minors in the face of sexual violence. The deputies notably set at 15 years the age below which a child is considered non-consenting for a sexual act with an adult, a threshold raised to 18 years in the event of incest.

The vote was acquired shortly after midnight by 67 votes in favor and none against. Despite some 300 amendments, the adoption of this text, the objective of which was widely shared on all the benches, was faster than expected by the agenda of the Assembly, which had it on its agenda until See you on Wednesday. The bill, largely rewritten by way of amendments by the government and its majority in the Palais-Bourbon, will now pass back to the Senate, from which it originally emanates.

“We do not touch the children”

“Thus no adult can take advantage of the consent of a minor” below this age of non-consent, said Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti. According to him the message is “clear”: “we do not touch the children”. The prescribed penalty is 20 years of criminal imprisonment for rape, incestuous or not.

All the political groups had in advance expressed their desire to move forward on this sensitive subject, already addressed in the “Schiappa” law of 2018. Emmanuel Macron had already promised at the beginning of the year “to act”, in a context of strong repercussions in the opinion of cases of abuse or rape on minors.

The testimonies which flow under the hashtag “#Metooinceste” translate the liberation of the word on a subject long considered as taboo. Acts also denounced by Camille Kouchner in his book The big family, implicating his stepfather, the political scientist Olivier Duhamel, for sexual assaults on his twin, “Victor”.

A “Romeo and Juliet” clause

In addition to sexual crimes such as rape, the bill concerns sexual assault and abuse on minors, so as to cover all of these acts. But the text also wants to avoid incriminating legitimate links forged between adolescence and the beginning of adulthood.

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A clause, nicknamed “Romeo and Juliet”, provides that the penalties only apply if “the age difference between the adult and the minor (under 15 years old, editor’s note) is at least five years” .

The criminalization of “legitimate” adolescent love would be madness, “said the rapporteur of the text, Alexandra Louis (LREM). However, this clause does not apply if a rape or assault is actually committed.

Despite everything, there was a lively debate on this point. “I do not think that when you are thirteen and are solicited by older people, you have all the necessary discernment,” said Florence Provendier (LREM). Eric Dupond-Moretti responded with another example: “I do not want to send a child of 18 and a day to the Assizes one day because he has a consensual relationship with a girl of 14 and a half”.

Prostitution of minors: increased penalties for pimps

The text also proposes that the thirty-year limitation period for rape of a minor be extended if the same person subsequently rapes another child. The prostitution of minors is also in the sights of the deputies, who adopted by way of amendment an increase in penalties both for pimps and for people having a paid sex with a child.

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New provisions also concern the fight against “sextortion”, which consists in inciting minors to engage in sexual practices on the Internet.

The bill, initiated in the Senate by centrist Annick Billon, was adopted unanimously in January by the upper house at first reading, then thoroughly revised by the deputies in committee, on the basis in particular of amendments by the government . Its final adoption is expected in the spring, the government having indicated its desire to see its provisions become operational as soon as possible.

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