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The French government looks set to reassess its laws around sexual consent following two cases where men were acquitted of raping 11-year-old girls.

As it stands, the age of consent in France is 15, however prosecutors must still prove that the sexual act was non-consensual in order to charge the offender with rape.

According to reports, the country's Justice Minister, Nicole Belloubet, confirmed that officials were considering the introduction of a fixed age, below which “consent is presumed not to exist.”

“The question of the age below which the minor's consent is presumed not to exist is crucial, because there are obviously extremely shocking and unacceptable situations,” she said.

There are currently no laws in place that classify sex with someone below a certain age as rape, meaning that if there is no violence involved, many offenders may only be charged with sexual abuse of a minor.

According to The Irish Independent, Marlene Schiappa, a junior minister for gender equality, said that the cut-off could be between the ages of 13 and 15.

“Below a certain age, it is considered that there can be no debate on the sexual consent of a child, and that any child below a certain age would automatically be considered to be raped or sexually assaulted.”

The news come after two recent court cases highlighted the need for stricter laws in relation to the age of consent.

Two men, 29 and 30, who abused two 11-year-old girls in separate incidents, were both acquitted after it was deemed that their acts did not constitute rape under French law.

According to current legislation, a person can only be charged with rape of a minor if the sexual act is committed “by violence, coercion, threat or surprise.”

In Ireland the age of sexual consent is 17, with additional protection in place to protect children under 15.

Other European countries like Germany and Portugal have a lower age of consent at 14.

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Discussions on rape, sexual harassment and consent have been more prominent than ever in recent weeks, as case after high profile case is exposed in Hollywood and the music industry. 

Yesterday, Hozier gave his two cents on the manner. 

Taking to Twitter, the singer penned a poignant tweet t in favour of consent. 

 

A post shared by Andrew Hozier Byrne (@hozier) on

The Take Me To Church musician framed his tweet in a manner intended to address the commonplace (and incorrect) argument that consent is a grey area, and that articulating consent between adults can ruin the mood.

'Consent is sexy. Lads, if you're not convinced that consent, audible consent -something uttered, something whispered, something called for loudly- is sexy, then chaps I'm afraid you may not be doing this right,' he tweeted. 

'Be well.'

He then followed this with: 'Before I get butchered for using this language, of course it is first and foremost *mandatory*.'

'I'm more addressing a commonly found aversion to "ruining the mood" by discussing sex before an act of sex, which is frankly, nonsense.'

Many people applauded the singer for making a positive contribution to the discussion surrounding sexual violence, and for using his platform to publicise an important issue. 

However, others criticised the singer for framing his comment in such a way. 

'I understand the sentiment but framing consent as sexy isn’t necessarily sending the right message,' tweeted one. 

'Consent isn’t sexy, it is wholly and absolutely necessary.'

In response, Hozier, aka Andrew Byrne, tweeted once more.

'That was a poorly worded tweet. I had seen something that annoyed me re people talking about, voicing, asking etc and provided absolutely no context at all in what I thought was an irreverent jibe aimed at lads. Language matters and framing it that way was silly,' he said.

Fans rushed to his defence, saying 'you're an ally dude. We all see that.'

'If what you said offended somebody then you must be doing something right lol – people on this site at this time are so vitriolic anyway,' said another. 

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So, as examples of poorly executed graphic designs go, we reckon this condom wrapper may be at the top of the list.

One reddit user shared an image of a condom which had been handed out on a college campus, appearing to be branded with the words “Go further without consent” alongside a picture of a rather out-of-place donut.

And as you can probably guess, the image sparked outrage among social media users. 

“Who approved this?” one wrote, while another asked: “How did they arrive at this final product?”

The wrapper is literally telling people to continue with sexual acts whether their partner has consented or not, right?

Well, not quite.

See, the little donut in front on the text actually stands for the words 'Do Not' (apparently), and is part of Say It With a Condom's Consent range.

While the addition of those two, all-important words completely change the message, no one can be blamed for thinking it meant quite the opposite.

We're glad it's all cleared up, but to be honest, we're really struggling to understand how the condom even made it into the production in the first place.

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Today, the issue of sexual consent will be brought before the Cabinet. 

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald will seek Cabinet approval to define sexual consent in Irish legislation for the first time ever. 

She will present a memo to this morning’s meeting outlining the inconsistency in Irish law and how she would address it.

The changes will include a definition that a person is incapable of consenting to a sexual act if they are asleep or unconscious.

This includes those who are unconscious due to intoxication, and those who are mistaken about the identity of the other person.

The changes to the law will also stress that a person cannot consent if they are being unlawfully detained, if they are unable to communicate due to a physical disability or if consent is offered through a third party.

A Department of Justice source told the Irish Times that the provisions would provide additional clarity for the legal system in sexual offences cases.

They would also serve “ as a clear reminder to those who would take advantage of persons who, in particular circumstances, are unable to consent.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, is due to be debated in the Dáil on February 1.

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How many times have you said yes for fear of causing offence, creating tension or engendering ill will?

As women, we’re offered daily reminders that we frequently take on too much or put ourselves out for others due to an innate desire to please all of the people all of the time.

Self-help features and handy listicles on the phenomenon regularly saturate our news feeds – Setting Boundaries And Saying No21 Ways To ‘Give Good No', How To Stop Saying Yes When You Want To Say No – and call to mind the countless times we’ve found ourselves reluctantly complying in daily life.

While these quirky write-ups generally focus on the holy grail that is the ‘perfect’ work / life balance, they do, inadvertently, act as a reminder that when it comes matters of consent, a simple ‘no’ is sometimes not an option.

And yet despite this, it does not mean that the matter of consent is any less black and white.

We may live in a Fifty Shades Of Grey society, but suggesting that the matter falls under any one of those shades is the reason why so many sexual assault cases fail to make it to trial.

If we struggle to say no to a party invite, tie ourselves in knots over declining an after-work coffee or utter a resigned ‘yes’ to an unexpected and totally inconvenient task, how can we be expected to properly articulate ourselves when in fear for our lives?

The matter of consent has dominated headlines in recent months and beneath calls for judicial review and longer sentences in rape cases, there lurks a narrative which suggests that when she doesn’t say no, she ultimately means yes.

From Brock Turner’s laughable three-month stint behind bars to the number of rape cases which collapse before and after making it to trial, there is no doubting the fact that society, as a whole, needs a lesson in consent.

Highlighting the stark difference which exists between consent and submission in last night’s episode of The Fall, Gillian Anderson’s character, Stella, attempted to placate the husband of a woman who struggled to understand his wife’s reaction to being abducted.

Stupefied that she hadn’t screamed or raised the alarm, and instead linked arms with her assailant, he frantically sought answers.

“Men always think in terms of fight or flight. In fact, the most common instinct in the face of this kind of threat is to freeze,” Stella told him.

“If she didn’t fight, if she didn’t scream, if she was silent and numb, it’s because she was petrified. If she went with him quietly, it’s because she was afraid for her life.”

“In that state of fear, she might well have been compliant. She might well have submitted. But that does not mean she consented.”

If we struggle to say no when pressed for an after-work drink, how likely is it we can say no when we’re not certain we’ll make it out of the exchange alive?

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The international meet-up of a controversial "pro-rape" online group will include an event this weekend in Co. Kildare.

Return Of Kings, a site which calls itself a "blog for heterosexual, masculine men" and states that "a woman’s value significantly depends on her fertility and beauty" is planning 165 meetings across 43 countries this weekend.

Ireland's meeting is scheduled to gather in front of the main entrance of Naas Courthouse at 8pm on Saturday, with the site adding that protests will be "likely."

The website also lists a bizarre question ("Do you know where I can find a pet shop"?) and answer which participants can use to find their "fellow tribesmen" at the event.

Return of Kings is led by a blogger named Daryush Valizadeh, who recently pledged for rape to "not be punishable by law" once it took place on private property.

His views led to a 50,000-signature petition aiming to prevent Return Of Kings gatherings taking place in Scotland. 

Other meet-ups have been scheduled for various US states, Australia, China, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Austria, France, Germany and the UK among other places.

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