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Law no. 1.517 of December 23, 2021, reforming the provisions relating to the criminalization of sexual assault.

As stated by Mrs. Marine GRISOUL, reporter on behalf of the Commission on Women’s Rights and the Family, this law, which introduces some changes in criminal law, is based on four main points :

First, it allows “the redefinition of certain offences” :

  • The expression “public indecency” is replaced by “sexual exhibition” and is defined as such when it is imposed “by any means accessible to the public”, including by “electronic communication” (Article 260 of the Penal Code);
  • The expression “indecent assault” is replaced by the terms “sexual offence” (Article 261 of the Penal Code) and “sexual assault” (Article 263 and 264 of the Penal Code) which are both defined;
  • The terms “moral harassment” (Article 236.1) and “consent” (Articles 261.1 and 262 of the Criminal Code) are introduced.

In addition, there is a “correctionalization of the penalties incurred“.

Indeed, Article 261 on sexual offences introduces a differentiation of penalties according to the age difference, since for “sexual offences against a minor under 15 years of age”, if the age difference is less than five years, the perpetrator is liable to a prison sentence of three to five years, but this sentence is from five to ten years if the age difference is more than five years.

In addition, the newly introduced articles 260.1 as well as 260.3 allow the introduction of the offenses of “sexual harassment” and “sexual blackmail” as this was previously only condemned in the context of an employment relationship (Law No. 1.457 of December 12, 2017). This same Law on harassment and violence in the workplace is amended at the same time by now distinguishing moral harassment and sexual harassment.

Finally, the Code of criminal procedure has been adjusted as a result of the above changes.

Thus, references to articles have been replaced or added, and article 273 on “immoral relations with a minor […] seduced” has been repealed.

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