The thought that someone could be forced, violently or not, to engage in a most intimate act, however this is expressed, confounds me. I can’t fathom the thought that anyone could possibly derive any real enjoyment from taking advantage of someone in this way. I can’t comprehend how and why someone thinks it okay to put another human being through such agonizing pain, humiliation, and shame. What a horrible exchange – a few moments of sick pleasure for such anguish.
When I learnt about the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) #ConsentIs campaign, I had to get involved. My word, what part of ‘No means No’ do some folks not get? If it is not a clear ‘YES’, then it’s a ‘NO’!
You see, I’m a teacher and this part of the year includes seeing and hearing about many of my ex-students going off to Uni. It’s so wonderful to see them achieve so much and I’m always so excited for them as they start this new chapter of their lives.
This is unfortunately dampened with the fact that universities, with its irresponsible drink culture, now seem to be a place conducive to rape.
UK Universities, and indeed others around the world appear to have a so-called and disturbing ‘rape culture’. In the UK, about 1 in 3 female students are said to be sexually violated. In the US, it is 1 in 5, according to Lady Gaga’s really sad ‘Til It Happens To You’ video.
Sexual assaults, sexual coercion, groping, unwanted and forced advances, and other forms of sexual harassment are shockingly more common than one dares to imagine. How I hope that my ex-students don’t experience this ugly side of a place that is meant to be one of advanced learning and higher level thinking.
I hope they remember their brief lesson in RS about consent.
CONSENT is ONLY consent if and ONLY IF:
one is capable of giving it
one freely gives it
one is legally of age to give it
The CPS’ campaign also highlights that
“Consent may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time an activity occurs.”
I will adjust my lesson this year to include these points, and I will spend longer facilitating a reflective discussion about consent, its purpose, its importance, its impact, and the effects and consequences of its violation.
I can’t even begin to imagine the cost of violated consent. As I said to my students yesterday, if we treat others the way we’ll like to be treated, the world will be a much better place. I doubt a rapist will want to be treated the way they treat those they prey on.
The Office of National Statistics’ annual report of crimes in England and Wales for the year ending March 2015, makes for grim reading. Unlike the decrease in many areas of police crime records, sexual offenses and violence against people increased. The rise in sexual offences is the … GET THIS … largest year-on-year rise since 2002/2003 when the National Crime Recording Standard was introduced.
- 88,219 sexual offenses were recorded by the police, 29,265 of this was rape and 58, 954 of other sexual offenses.
- Recorded sexual offences rose by a whooping 37%, that is 23, 990 more than the previous year.
- Of this, rape went up by 41%, and other sexual offences by 36%!
Some of the rise reflect the fact more victims are coming forward, especially in reporting historic offenses, and also the improvement in the recording of crimes. Sadly, there is also a rise in current sexually offenses.
See the Rape Crisis England & Wales for more relevant statistics, information, and support.
“London’s oldest and largest Rape Crisis Centre, the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (Rape Crisis South London)” marks its 30 years anniversary this year. I’m sure a society where there isn’t a need for this kind of centre is preferable to most people. Rape victim referrals from the mental health services to their long-term therapy service has risen by 30%!
This centre and other related charities like Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group rely on government funding and public generosity to fund their short and long term support services for Rape Victims. It’s crazy that their funding and that of other related charities are threatened, especially considering that the “reports of rape are at the highest levels they have been for 10 years”!
We live in a world where rape and other sexual assault is more common that our minds can bear to know – in places of education, on the transport system etc … a world where it is even used as a weapon in war. It affects children and adults, males and females, from every walk of life. It can happen to any of us and it’s NEVER the victim’s fault.
Let’s take action to embed the meaning of consent in our young and old, so that perhaps next year’s statistics isn’t so depressing. Let’s take action now so that less lives are destroyed. Let’s talk about what consent means and challenge any ignorance about it.
SEXUAL CONSENT is A RIGHT that we all have; it is MUTUAL, and not ONE-SIDED! No means no and sexual violation is NEVER RIGHT.
The National Rape Crisis helpline – 0808 802 9999 – is available every day of the year from 12 noon – 2.30pm and 7 – 9.30pm for confidential support and information.
What do you think about this #ConsentIs
Linkup: #SundayStars 18Oct15 (Amy & Heledd)