The issue of consent is one that urgently needs serious intervention. The global adoption of consent has often been mitigated by ignorance and illiteracy.
Although much efforts have been made to emphasize on the importance of demanding consent, the truth remains that over 31.4 percent of girls there said that their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind.
One of the revelations this topic has brought is that there are conflicting understandings and mentalities to what constitutes rape or sexual assault but it’s high time we all got on the same page.
What is consent?
Consent is a voluntary, enthusiastic expression of willingness or approval between two parties to engage in a specific sexual activity.
Nonconsensual sex is rape. Period.
If clear, voluntary, coherent, and ongoing consent is not given by all participants, it’s sexual assault. There’s no room for ambiguity or assumptions when it comes to consent, and there aren’t different rules for people who’ve hooked up before.
Rules of sexual consent;
It is your responsibility to ask for consent. It is also your obligation to know if you have consent. If you’re in the heat of the moment, here are some good ways to ask for consent: Is this okay? Are you comfortable? Can I take off your top? Do you want to go further? Do you want to slow down?
Nothing you have already done gives you the permission to do something else. The fact that you got the permission to take the top off doesn’t mean you have the permission to take the trousers off. Consent should be ongoing.
No means no and only yes means yes. “Maybe” doesn’t mean yes. “I guess so” doesn’t mean yes. “Let’s see what happens” doesn’t mean yes. And “no” never means yes.
A drunk, high or sleeping person cannot give consent. They cannot receive consent either. Anything you do with a drunk or high person is either sexual assault or rape. This rule also applies to people who are asleep.
Saying yes to sex once doesn’t mean yes to sex forever. Consent can be withdrawn or taken back any time. The fact that you got a yes in the beginning doesn’t mean you can’t get a NO in the middle.
Everyone has the right to say no in any situation. It doesn’t matter if you spent money on them, took them out to expensive places, if they come to your house to sleep or if they wore revealing clothes. They have a legal right to say no.
If your partner looks uncomfortable, they probably are. Pay attention to the things they say and don’t say. Always remember to ask them: Is this okay? Are you comfortable? Do you want to go further.
Consent must be clearly communicated. If you are not sure if consent has been clearly given, then it probably hasn’t. Flirting, a short dress, accepting a free ride or a drink does not mean that they are giving consent or asking for it.
If they say one thing and act like they want another thing, stand up and walk away. When in doubt, and if you cannot or choose not to walk away, ask directly what they want. If you are still unsure, take it as a no. Consent is not just a lack of NO. You need a real YES!
If they say yes because you pressured them or they feel too afraid to say no, it’s not consent. Consent must be freely given and must not be obtained by threats, violence or pressure. Consent that is not freely given is not consent.
If you’ve been sexually assaulted;
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, it can be hard to know where to turn or what steps to take next. Know that you’re not alone and what happened to you isn’t your fault.
- Call 911 if you’re in immediate danger or are injured.
- Reach out to someone you trust. You don’t have to go through this alone.
- Contact the police to report the sexual assault. What happened to you is a crime.
- If you’re raped, get a “rape kit” completed immediately. This can be administered at a hospital or clinic and will be useful to collect evidence, regardless of whether or not you’ve decided to report the sexual assault to the police.
- Contact your local sexual assault center to seek counseling.
- Contact Mirabel centre