Have you ever found yourself in an awkward situation? Felt pressured to do something you didn’t want to?
No one has an obligation to continue with something they are uncomfortable with, including sex/sexual contact. Everyone has the right to say no.
The law states that the legal age for two people to have sex is 16 for both men and women regardless of any factors such as sexual orientation or race- this is providing that the individual is of age and full mental capacity and is not under the influence of a substance that may hinder their ability to consent such as drugs or alcohol. A person can commit an offence if they intentionally touch another person in a sexual way and the person does not consent. How do you feel about this? Do you think there should be any changes made to this law? It is also important to note that anyone under the age of 13 can not legally consent to sex and anyone having sex with someone under the age of 13 can be charged with sexual offenses such as rape and sexual assault.
There are a number of useful websites that provide information on consent if you are unsure. One of these is the Family Planning Association (FPA) they provide useful Factsheets on the law on consent in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. They also include information about the law on The Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides information on all aspects of the law and all the convictions that can come from not getting consent from a person. Think U Know is a website run by the National Crime Agency in cooperation with Childline and provides information on consent for a younger audience, it also includes a number of videos to put the law into perspective.
There are many signs of consent however, if you’re not sure- ask! Some non-verbal signs of consent include body language and mannerisms for example: smiling, nodding and touching. There are also the obvious signs such as verbal agreement and discussion about the sexual contact between the people involved. There are also a number of signs that you should stop, these may include: indication from the person that they do not want to carry on, you are intoxicated, your partner is asleep or passed out, you or your partner is under the age of consent and finally, your partner is not going with the flow. If any of these signs are present you should stop what you are doing and communicate with the person involved to discuss if they would like to carry on.
If any of this blog makes you think about an occurrence where something similar has happened to you or if you wake up the night after a heavy night of drinking and feel as though something might have happened with someone that you didn’t agree too, you should confide in someone you trust. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved. You should then contact the police, the person who did this may be doing it to other people, you should report it as soon as you feel able to do so. The person you may confide in (if you felt comfortable doing so) could also accompany you, this will make you feel much more relaxed.
Remember if you do not want to participate in any form of sexual activity you have the right to say no!
Thank you for reading!