The issue of consent has always been controversial, and complicated.
But it really shouldn’t be. People have the right to withdraw their consent and change their mind about having sex at any stage and for any reason.
See what we mean, simple.
Except new research has revealed that more than half of us think that this isn’t the case believing that once you get naked with someone it isn’t ok to withdraw consent.
Surprising though it may sound, the survey revealed that 53% of those polled don’t think it’s OK for someone to withdraw sexual consent if they’ve already taken their clothes off.
The poll of 2003 participants aged between 14 and 55 by the Family Planning Association (FPA) for Sexual Health Week 2018, also found that 9% of those asked said that it wasn’t okay to withdraw consent if you’ve been bought dinner or drinks.
So basically around one in ten people think that someone buying you a glass of pinot or a Tuna Nicoise means you no longer have the right to decide whether or not you want to sleep with them.
The participants of the survey were asked whether it was OK to withdraw sexual consent in certain circumstances.
As well as being bought dinner and drinks by another person, other scenarios that 9% said they didn’t think it was right to withdraw consent under included; if they’d already kissed the other person and if they’d previously had sex with the other person.
Meanwhile, 45 per cent of the participants of the survey aged between 18 and 24 years old and 37 per cent of those aged between 14 and 17 years old said that they learnt about sexual consent from watching TV shows and films.
And that’s something that needs to change.
Last year, it was confirmed that sex education is to become compulsory in all schools in England, with the Department of Education working closely with parents, teachers and experts to ensure that children are taught about the issues of sex and consent in a way that is appropriate for their age.
Commenting on the concerning survey findings Natika Halil, Chief Executive of the sexual health charity FPA, said:
“Prior to relationships and sex education (RSE) becoming statutory in England, we want to make sure educators and parents are prepared for discussions on consent with young people.
“Currently, only 11% of young people would talk to teachers about consent but RSE will be statutory in two years’ time. Consent should underpin all discussions around relationships and sex, and young people must be equipped with the essential knowledge and skills that will help to empower and safeguard them.
“It’s been encouraging to see the cultural shift in society over the past year, with calls for better understanding of and respect for consent. But it’s really worrying that people of all ages think that it’s not OK to withdraw consent in a range of situations.
“It’s always OK to say no to sexual activity that you’re not comfortable with, whatever the situation – and is equally important to listen to and respect your partner if they want to stop.”
Mel Gadd, Projects and Training Coordinator at FPA, said: “Consent is the single most important aspect of relationships and sex education.
“I often hear young people say how confusing they think consent is. But consent is easy, as long as it’s taught in the right way.
“We need to equip young people with both the knowledge and tools to recognise what does and does not constitute consent, how to check for it, and how to confidently have conversations around it. This includes how to say no but, even more importantly, how to listen for an enthusiastic yes.”
To help open up the conversation and equip parents, teachers and health professionals to talk about the subject, FPA’s Sexual Health Week 2018 is focused on the topic of consent.
As part of the week, FPA will be producing digital resources for educators, as well as posters, leaflets, and content on consent and the law, recognising and negotiating consent, and advice for parents and teachers on how to discuss consent with young people.
“We want Sexual Health Week to provide a starting point for these conversations, addressing the basics and helping people feel more confident recognising, discussing and negotiating consent,” Halil adds.
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