A 29-year-old French man went on trial Tuesday in a Paris suburb for having sex with an 11-year-old girl, a case that has rekindled strong debate on the age of sexual consent in France.
Unlike many countries, France does not have a legal age under which a minor cannot agree to a sexual relationship — although the country’s top court has ruled that children aged five and under cannot consent. Lawyers for the suspect argued that the girl was consenting and aware of what she was doing, while lawyers for the girl have said she was simply too young and confused to resist.
In a decision that shocked many, the prosecutor’s office in the town of Pontoise decided to put the man on trial not for rape but for charges of “sexual abuse of a minor under 15.”
Defense lawyers say the man and the girl