The French mock the Western world for what they consider exceedingly rigid sexual morals. Having an affair? That’s fully OK to the French, who say to think otherwise is prudish.
But now comes a shocking court decision that has sparked outrage across France. Prosecutors declared that an 11-year-old girl “consented” to sex with a 28-year-old man, who lured her away from a park in a Paris suburb.
The man reportedly promised to teach the girl how to kiss. But at his apartment, the man had sex with the girl, prosecutors said. The girl’s family wanted the man charged with rape, saying the girl was “paralyzed” by fear and “unable to defend herself.”
Prosecutors, though, decided that the girl had engaged in a consensual “sexual relationship” with the man. They said “there was no violence, no constraint, no threat, and no surprise” on the part of the man to justify the charge of rape, The Local reported.
“Essentially they judged that she had consented to the sexual encounter because she was not physically forced into the act,” The Local reported.
The girl’s mother insists her daughter was raped.
“She thought it was too late, that she didn’t have the right to protest, that it wouldn’t make any difference, so she went into auto pilot, without emotion and without reaction,” the mother told the Mediapart news site.
One expert on similar cases told Le Figaro that “submitting was not consenting”.
Rape victims, the expert said, sometimes “switch off” and no longer feel fear. This is especially true among child victims, the expert told the paper.
Rights group Le Voix de l’Enfant said in a statement: “The question of consent or its absence should never even be asked when it comes to rape victims who are minors”.
Other groups have called for the French legal system to introduce a legal age under which sexual consent is never presumed.