France's lower house of parliament has voted to toughen laws on the rape of minors, but stopped short of setting a legal age of sexual consent.
During a heated debate which ended early on Wednesday, MPs decided against creating what would have been France's first law on a legal age below which a minor cannot agree to a sexual relationship with an adult. The proposal was the age of 15.
Instead, they approved a clause in which relations between an adult and a minor under 15 could be classified as rape if "the victim lacks the ability to consent". In other cases, it would be classified as a "sexual assault".
However, rights groups who had pushed for a firm age limit have reacted angrily.
The law now goes forward to the French senate for approval.