While the age of consent was previously 15, prosecutors in France were required to prove that sex was not consensual in order to get a rape conviction.
“It is a historic law for our children and our society,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told the National Assembly.
“No adult aggressor will be able to claim the consent of a minor under the age of 15. “
The vote in favor of the bill was unanimous on its last reading, the assembly said on Twitter.
As a result, a “Romeo and Juliet” clause which allows sexual relations between a minor and an individual for up to five years longer. The clause will not apply in the event of sexual assault.
The law also considers incestuous sex with a minor under the age of 18 as rape.
In a country that has long cherished its self-image as a land of seduction and romance, the sexual abuse of women and children for years has gone unnoticed or unreported in the upper echelons of power and in circles of power. celebrities.
But there has been a lot of soul-searching in recent years.
The #MeToo movement that swept the world after scores of women accused American film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault in 2017 marked a turning point in France. The same was true for the disgrace in 2020 of a French writer who had written openly about his pedophilia.
France had already toughened its sex crimes laws in 2018 by banning sexual harassment on the streets, leaving cat-callers and aggressively lewd individuals facing possible fines on the spot.