To consent to sexual activity means to give permission for a sexual act to happen because you want it to happen. Gaining consent from a person before engaging in any sexual activity with them is mandatory. If they engage in sexual activity without consent this is sexual assault or rape, depending on the activity.
Consent must be given:
- by both/all partners
- every time and for every sexual act.
How do you give/get consent for a sexual act?
- Verbally – by the asking and answering of questions i.e. ‘Is it okay if I touch you here?’, ‘Can I go down on you?’ or ‘Do you want to have sex?’
- Non verbally – by active and enthusiastic participation
In law, consent can be withdrawn at any time, even if the sexual act is in progress.
Just because a person has consented to some things, does not mean they have consented to others. For example, they may feel comfortable with kissing or touching each other but this does not mean you consent to oral sex or penetrative sex.
The law says that consent is something active. It means freely choosing to say ‘yes’.
If there is no agreement, there is no consent – no consent is a crime. If one party is:
- mentally ill
- of low mental age vs chronological age
- under the age of 16
- otherwise incapacitated
then consent cannot be given freely.
Remember – consent can be confirmed by:
- Looking at body language
- Being aware, prepared, and willing to stop at any time
- Being respectful and accepting if your partner says ‘no’
Being pressured or forced to have sex when you don’t want to is a crime.No one is ever obliged to have any kind of sex with someone, even with a partner or someone they’re married to, or someone they’ve had sex with once before or a hundred times before. Consent can never be assumed. Sex is never owed to anyone.