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Rape committed against a major

Verified 20 novembre 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

Additional cases ? Minor victim / Sexual assault

Rape is a sexual offense with penetration committed without the consent of the victim. This is a crime in the eyes of the law. If you are a rape victim, you can call the rescue services for help. You can also file a complaint against the perpetrator. The police and the gendarmerie will conduct an investigation and the public prosecutor will decide whether there is enough evidence to try him.

Rape is an act of sexual penetration committed against a victim with violence, coercion, threat or surprise (in the latter case, the victim is deceived by the deceit of the aggressor).

Any act of sexual penetration shall be aimed at: vaginal, anal or oral. Penetration may be carried out by the sex of the rapist, by his fingers or by an object.

If there was no penetration, there was no rape but sexual assault..

Physical violence is not necessary to describe an act of rape. It is sufficient that the victim has not given his clear and explicit consent. This is one of the following situations:

  • The victim gave a clear and explicit refusal and/or defense, but the aggressor exercised physical restraint on her (e.g. sexual assault or violent rape)
  • The victim did not make a clear and explicit refusal and/or did not defend himself, as he was the subject of a moral constraint (e.g. sexual assault of an employee by his or her boss)
  • The victim was not in a position to give a clear answer (for example, a victim under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or a vulnerable victim due to his or her health condition).

Sexual assault with penetration is considered rape, even if it is committed by the victim's spouse, cohabiting partner or partner Pacs..

Attempts to rape are punished with the same penalties as rape. Rape is attempted if the perpetrator tried to rape the victim, but failed to do so because of something beyond his control (example: the victim defended himself or third parties intervened).

  Please note : the sexual harassment, particularly at work, is punished more specifically.

Alert police and gendarmerie by telephone

In case of emergency, and only in this situation, it is possible to alert the police or the gendarmerie by telephone call, or by SMS if you are unable to speak.

By phone

In an emergency, when a rapid response is required, you must call the emergency police.

Who shall I contact
  • Rescue police - 17

    By phone

    Dial 17 in the event of an emergency involving a traffic accident, a disturbance of public order or a criminal offense. A team of policemen or gendarmes will visit the site.

    You can also dial 112..

    If there is no emergency, call your police station or gendarmerie number.

    By SMS

    You can also send a free SMS to the 114.. If you cannot speak (danger, disability), you will then communicate in writing with your correspondent.

  • European emergency number - 112


    Emergency number to be used for a call from a European country or from a mobile phone


    Free call


If you have difficulty hearing or speaking, you can also send an SMS to the 114.. You will then communicate in writing with your correspondent.

Who shall I contact
  • Emergency number for people who cannot call - 114


    By SMS

    Free 24/7

    By emergency application 114

    Free 24/7

    Contact possible via:

    • Visiophony
    • Chat
    • Voice / Text Return

    Through the Internet portal

    Free 24/7

    Contact possible via:

    • Visiophony
    • Chat
    • Voice / Text Return

Preserve clues and evidence

Care must be taken not to destroy any evidence that could be used to identify the perpetrator and to bring him to justice. For example, avoid taking a shower or throwing away clothes worn at the time of the assault.

Consideration should also be given to preserving evidence that could help law enforcement and the judiciary to identify and convict the perpetrator of the rape. For example, in the event of an assault on transport, the persons who are witnesses must be asked for their details, so that they can be heard afterwards.

Instant messaging (chat) allows you to chat with police or gendarmerie personnel. At any time, the chat history can be deleted from your computer, mobile phone or tablet.

Report rape or sexual assault

Ministry of the Interior

In order for the perpetrator of the sexual assault you have suffered to be prosecuted, and to be convicted for his act, you must file..

On site

You must contact a police station or gendarmerie of your choice.

You cannot be denied receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then transmitted to the public prosecutor by the police or the gendarmerie.

By mail

You can lodge a complaint directly with the public prosecutor. We need to send free paper letter the court of the place of the offense or the place of residence of the offender.

The letter must include the following:

  • Civil status and full contact information (address and telephone number) of the complainant
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Assumed author's name if you know him (otherwise the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of potential witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or final injury estimate
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, various invoices, findings .....
  • Willingness to take part in civil proceedings

Make a complaint to the public prosecutor

Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Dila) - Prime Minister

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by simple letter. You can also file your complaint directly at the court reception. In all cases, a receipt will be given to you as soon as the public prosecutor's office has registered your complaint.

  FYI : because of the statute of limitations, you must file your rape complaint within 20 years of the date of the offense. After the expiry of this period your complaint will no longer be admissible. Minor victims may file complaints within a longer period of time.

Several structures can provide you with support as a victim of a sexual offense.

Who shall I contact
  • Violence Women Info - 3919

    Listens, informs and guides women victims of violence, as well as witnesses of violence against women.

    Deals with physical, verbal or psychological violence, at home or at work, and of any kind (including sexual harassment, assault and rape).

    Does not deal with emergencies (it is not a police or gendarmerie service).

    By phone

    39,19 (free call from landline or mobile)

    Open from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm

    Anonymous call.

    Call not on phone bills.

  • 116 006 - Victim Support Number

    Listens, informs and advises victims of crime and their relatives.

    By phone


    Free call

    Open 7 days a week from 9am to 7pm

    The service can also be accessed by dialing +33 (0)1 80 52 33 76 (normal pricing number).

    By email

You can also call on a lawyer.

Medical examination

At the request of police or gendarmes, the victim will then be examined by a doctor if the complaint is filed shortly after the incident. The doctor will examine possible injuries and look for DNA traces.

Whenever possible, it is best not to shower or bathe before the examination. For the same purpose, she will be able to provide investigators with the clothes she was wearing at the time of the incident.

The doctor may also search for any trace of drug issued by the author (type GHB or rape drug).

The doctor must issue a medical certificate to the victim indicating his condition. An AIDS test and, if necessary, a pregnancy test may be performed.

Appointment of a judge

Rape is a crime. An investigating judge must be appointed to conduct the investigation.

Right to a lawyer

If you are a victim of rape, you have the right to be assisted by a lawyer at all stages of the legal process.

It may be present:

  • all confrontations between you and the alleged perpetrator,
  • all your hearings by the police or by the judge.
Who shall I contact

  Please note : you can benefit from financial assistance to pay your legal fees, thanks to legal aid, if you meet the resource requirements.

You can get advice on the preparation of your case and on legal aid from the house of justice and the law.


Apart from DNA evidence and possible injuries, any evidence gathered by the victim himself can be examined by the courts:

  • testimony,
  • SMS, email,
  • recordings of conversations even without the knowledge of the author,
  • clothes...

Public hearing in principle

In principle, the trials are public, meaning that anyone can attend the hearings. But even if the trial is public, it is forbidden to broadcast images of the victim or any information about his identity without his written consent. Failure to comply with this rule is punishable by a fine of €15,000..

Closed in camera at the request of the victim

The Court of Assisi shall pronounce the closed if the victim asks. In this case, the trial is not public and only those directly involved (victims, accused, witnesses...) can be present in the room.

Basic penalty

The perpetrator of rape is in principle at risk 15 years in prison, but many aggravating circumstances are foreseen.

Penalties for aggravating circumstances

The maximum penalty is 20 years in the following cases:

  • The rapist is a ascending, a person having authority over the victim (employer...) or a person abusing the authority entrusted to him by his duties (police...)
  • The rapist lives in pairs with the victim
  • The rapist drugged the victim
  • The rapist was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • The rapist contacted the victim via the Internet
  • The victim was particularly vulnerable (infirm, sick, pregnant, deprived)
  • Rape resulting in dismemberment or permanent infirmity
  • Rape committed on the basis of the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity (real or perceived)
  • Rape committed with the use or threat of use of a weapon
  • Rape committed by several persons acting as perpetrators or accomplices

Rape is punishable by 30 years in prison if the act resulted in the death of the victim.

Rape is punishable by life imprisonment if the act was preceded, accompanied or followed by torture or barbaric acts.

Complementary penalties

The court of assize may also sentence the author to one of the many additional penalties provided for by the law, for example:

  • Injunction of care in the context of socio-judicial follow-up
  • Prohibition of residence in certain places (e.g. the home of the victim) for 10 maximum
  • Prohibition of public service

Criminal record

The conviction for rape shall be entered in the criminal record of the sentenced person, and his name shall be entered in the sex offenders index..