French girl, 11, 'consented' to sex with adult man, prosecution claims

  • 28/09/2017
Lack, violation of human rights liberty. Young lonely woman sitting
Photo credit: Getty

A prosecutor's decision to downgrade a charge from rape to sexual abuse of a minor has prompted outrage in France.

Prosecutors said "there was no violence, no constraint, no threat, and no surprise" by the man to justify the charge of rape.

The 28-year-old man has instead been charged with sexual abuse of a minor.

Prosecutors said the child engaged in a consensual "sexual relationship" with the man, prompting immediate backlash from children's rights groups.

The case alleged that in April, the man lured the girl from a park in the northern Paris suburb of Montmagny to his nearby home. 

The Local news outlet reported that the man allegedly raped her. According to the girl's family she was "paralysed" by fear and "unable to defend herself".

"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 told Mediapart that she was shocked that the original rape charge had been dropped to the lesser charge of sexual abuse of a minor.

"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 said.

Speaking to Le Figaro, an expert on similar cases said that victims, especially children, sometimes "switch off" and no longer feel fear. The expert stressed that in cases similar to this "submitting was not consenting".

In a statement, children's rights group Le Voix de L'Enfant said: "The question of consent or its absence should never even be asked when it comes to rape victims who are minors".