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France: Sex Legal at 15

The French have given us so much, starting with French Fries (although many argue they originated in Belgium). Thomas Jefferson was often a fan of potatoes served in the “French manner.”

There’s no argument the French provided us with the Statue of Liberty, and literally gave it to us as a gift. Most people remember from American history classes that they wouldn’t have given us the statue had we not won independence, and there’s no arguing that people like the Marquis de Lafayette, along with the French Navy, played a key role in winning the American Revolution of the late 18th century. The French didn’t like the English either, and were glad to help us poke a stick in King George’s eye, but that’s another post for another day.

The French pretty much provided most of the culture of New Orleans, as well. Heck, I could go onto a 5,000-word commentary about the French influence on the United States, including the French kiss, but now that kissing has been subtly introduced, I’ll get to the core of the subject at hand: the French are presently engaged in a countrywide debate over the age of consent.

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The news comes from Paris that the latest topic of hot discussion is whether 13-year-old girls are old enough to consent to have sex. That’s the “pro” side. The “con” side argues it should be at least 15.

What stirred up the debate is the recent reluctance of French courts to prosecute men for having consensual sex with girls as young as 11, because prosecutors couldn’t show coercion. The French public was suitably horrified, and the debate in France was undertaken, according to Yahoo News.

More quick history: in the United States in 1885, the age of consent was raised from 13 to 16 in part to help eradicate prostitution in which girls as young as 8-11 worked in brothels (which were also notorious for the spreading of venereal disease). By 1920, most of the states had raised the age of consent to between 16 and 18.

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