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Protests have broken out in Paris as France's justice minister prepares to set the country's first legal age of sexual consent at just 13.Activists argue that the age of consent should be set at 15 as they waved placards that read 'for him impunity, for her a life sentence' in reference to a 30-year-old man recently being cleared of raping an 11-year-old.Prominent French feminist activist Caroline de Haas said: 'We want the law to guarantee that before 15 there can be no concept of consent.''I don't know why (Belloubet) said it,' added Alice Collet, a member of the National Collective for Women's Rights.'It's a sign of ignorance of the issues.' It comes after French courts refused on two occasions recently to prosecute grown men for rape after they had sex with 11-year-olds because authorities couldn't prove coercion.
One of her colleagues in the French government has said that a minimum age for sexual consent has not been set for the bill.Sexual abuse without coercion is an offense punishable of a maximum sentence of five years in prison.A rape conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, or 20 years when the victim is under 15 years old.French law defines rape as any act of sexual penetration committed on others 'by violence, coercion, threat or surprise.' The definition does not distinguish between adults and minors for either the victims or perpetrators, although the potential criminal penalty is higher when victims are under 15.A minimum age of sexual consent does not currently exist in French law.