What is consent?

Consent is the giving of permission and will to engage in intercourse or any other sexual activity. Consent is essential, given by a person’s own free will with 0 coercion, force or threat and retractable at any time. Consent is not assumed, pressured, silent, reluctant, unconscious or unresponsive. Consent can only be made when a person is sober, conscious and free from the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is a criminal offence to have a sexual relationship with someone who has not consented to the act. Consent should be clear and if it is not then it’s always best to ask so that you are sure. However this doesn’t count if you coerce them with repetitive advances or manipulate them so they feel forced to say yes.

If someone says no, pushes you away, or is unresponsive to your advances then you should stop. ‘No’ can be said in many ambiguous ways as not to cause offence so things like ‘I’m not feeling it’ or ‘not right now’ may also be someone’s way of saying no. It may not always be verbal, if someone is not reciprocating or responding to your advances, if they are pushing you away or turning away then this is them using their body language to say no. If they have not said yes or cannot say yes then always assume that they are saying no.

For those who are in relationships, it is not always obvious if your partner is fully consenting as lines can easily become blurred. It is easy to feel pressured into doing something as you can feel obligated due to being in a relationship with the other person. It is necessary that you always obtain clear and full consent from the individual that has been given without any external pressures or influences, every time you initiate a sexual encounter. Just because someone has consented before does not mean they are giving consent to every future sexual activity. Someone who is intoxicated or unconscious cannot legally give consent. It is the responsibility of the person initiating sex to obtain consent.

It is important to remember that it is your right to be in an environment free from coercion and pressure whereby you can openly express your desire or lack of to proceed to engage in a sexual act. This decision is not withstanding and can be revoked at any time up to or during a sexual engagement of any nature. Consent must be clear and the lack of a ‘no’ or silence is not consent. Sex without consent is rape.

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