French prosecutors have ruled that an 11-year-old girl ‘consented’ to sexual relations with a 28-year-old man as she did not verbally and physically protest. The young girl had been lured to the man’s home in the Paris suburb of Montmagny in April this year, where he sexually assaulted her.
However, prosecutors said they could not justify charging the man with rape as there was no ‘violence, constraint, threat or surprise’. Instead, the 28-year-old has only been charged with sexual abuse of a minor, The Local reports. The girls’ family insists she was raped and say she had been ‘paralyzed with fear’ throughout her ordeal. ‘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 autopilot, without emotion, and without reaction,’ the mother told a French news website according to The Local.
The decision not to prosecute the man for rape has caused outrage in France, with experts telling the media that ‘submitting is not consenting’.
Children’s rights groups have called for the legal system to introduce laws similar to those in the UK to protect children from predators. In the UK, intentional penetration of any orifice involving a child under 13 is classed as rape, as it is deemed that those aged 12 and under are not legally able to give consent to any form of sexual activity. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides specific legal protection for children aged 12 and under. There is a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for rape, assault by penetration, and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.