Living in a patriarchal society often makes us forget that each one of us has a right to self respect. We have a right to say NO in situations which do not adhere to our righteousness. Sometimes we concede to things under peer pressure or for not wanting to disappoint our partner, but end up regretting it later. It is always advisable to ask for or give sexual consent before indulging in any sexual act. At times we take things for granted that the other person is giving us signals or wants to have sex as much as we do, but it’s not always true. Taking sexual consent not only keeps the mutual respect alive but it strengthens long term relationship.
To define the seriousness of sexual consent it should be clearly understood that lack of Sexual Consent amounts to rape. If your partner is not comfortable with you coming close to him or her, then it is best to withdraw from such a situation. In case they are not in the mood to indulge further, and you force yourself on them, then it will amount to forced sex or sexual assault or rape.
Sexual Consent – What is Right to Say NO!:
Sexual consent entails proactively agreeing to have sexual relations with someone. Consent implies that sex is desired. Rape or sexual assault is defined as sexual conduct without permission. Sexual consent is just like a defining line between rape and consensual sex.
Getting Sexual Consent clearly defines that someone wants to be physically intimate with you. It also respects the privacy and honesty of someone when he or she is denying and not consenting to sex. Communication and respect are essential components of consent.
Consent is permission to engage in a certain acts which are agreeable to us. It is imperative to understand that there are several aspects to sexual consent –
- Consent can be withdrawn at any moment as long as it is conveyed clearly
- Force, threat, fraud, or intimidation cannot be used to coerce into giving consent
- Someone incapable in mind or body cannot provide
- Silence, the lack of “no” or “stop,” the existence of a past or existing relationship, or prior sexual activity do not constitute
IMPORTANCE OF SEXUAL CONSENT:
Young people need to understand consent. It can help them avoid significant difficulties when it comes to sexual behaviour. Students must grasp the concept of consent to lessen the possibility of sexual assault, unwanted pregnancies, and STIs, as well as promote fair, healthy relationships.
Everyone has various limits, comfort levels, and desires, and everyone has the right to have those needs honoured. If someone’s desires are unclear, you should always ask questions and discuss them.
Whether you’ve just met someone or have been with your partner for a long time, consent is necessary before having sex. It’s very common for someone to change their mind in the middle of an intimate moment, which is why it’s critical to check in on what you want and what your partner wants. It’s also crucial to understand that sexual consent includes genital contact, oral sex, vaginal penetration, and anal penetration.
WHEN AND HOW TO ASK FOR PERMISSION:
Another question that might be arising in your mind is what is the right time to ask for sexual consent?
Between couples who have been together for long, the lack of consent can be easily identified through mannerisms. If you feel your partner is withdrawing or looks uncomfortable at any point of time, it is best to move away and ask if everything is alright. More often than not, long term couples will open up if anything is troubling them and they are not comfortable in a sexual act presently. In case the person does not open up but you still feel something amiss, it is best to hand over the reins to the other person to check if they are comfortable going further. If they do not have anything concerning them, then they will take over initiative and you can proceed. An open discussion about sexual intimacy is something which we all avoid but is very necessary.
For couples who are relatively new in their relationship and are yet to understand each other mannerisms, it is essential to take verbal consent. This is where the maximum confusion happens. While we think that everything is in flow and going in the right direction, the other person may have other ideas or expectations. Hence talking about any sexual contact is essential. Contrary to expectation, it will not kill the moment but in truth will make your partner respect you more.
It is the duty of the individual initiating sexual activity in every sexual encounter to ensure that the other person feels comfortable and safe.
Difference Between Sexual Consent and Rape
Rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse are all legally different. They are all defined under acts of violence. It involves sexual intercourse without consent. Even touching inappropriately in office or amongst friends and relatives comes under sexual abuse or harassment.
People commonly use the phrase “sexual assault” to refer to any type of non- consensual sexual contact. The term Rape refers to sexual contact that involves penetration.
Anyone, irrespective of gender, sexuality, or age, can be a victim. However, certain classes of people are more likely than others to be victims of sexual assault. Women, The LGBT community are common victims. Those with developmental impairments are more likely to be sexually assaulted as they have limited ability to defend themselves. Children are also likely to be sexually abused and assaulted as they are vulnerable and lack knowledge.
Sexual Assault Caused By Known People
Sexual assault does not only happen between unknown people. It’s often someone that the victim knows. If you or someone you know has been subjected to this form of violence then you are not alone, and help is available and should be seeked.
Over the past few years, the cases of harassment sexual violence and rapes have drastically increased. It is believed that roughly 35% of women globally have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives. Fewer than 40% of those women seek aid, and fewer than 10% seek assistance from law enforcement. As a result, a vast majority of rapists go unpunished. In the USA, it is believed that just 9% of rapists are prosecuted, and only 3% are imprisoned. Rapists go free in 97% of cases. In India, it is estimated that there is one rape that happens every 20 minutes. These are those cases which are reported. If we take the unreported cases into consideration, then there will be no limit to the number of individuals subjected to this harassment on a daily basis.
LIMITATIONS TO GIVING CONSENT:
Someone lacks the freedom and competence to freely consent to sexual activity if:
- They are either sleeping or unconscious
- Deception or Deceit – One of the partners is lying about something
- They’re either drunk or under influence of drugs
- They’re far too young
- They have a mental health issue or sickness that prevents them from making a decision
- They are intimidated, manipulated, duped, or terrified of the abuser
- The other person is attempting to use physical force against them
If someone is unsure if you are consenting to something sexual, they should ask you!
They should stop if they see, hear or believe you’re not completely comfortable or content with what’s going on between you.
Sexual Consent – Right to Say NO!:
With the increasing cases of harassment and sexual abuse, it is now essential to teach sexual consent to our children. Consent education is a key aspect of teaching your kid about sexual health. It teaches your child that their opinion matters and that they have options. It teaches them about sexual consent and that they have a Right to Say No.
1) THEY CAN CHANGE THEIR MIND:
Your kid may say “yes,” but then change their mind before emotions, fear, or other factors. Allow them the opportunity to alter their minds. Teaching kids to be respectful of someone else changes their views. Consent is not always a blanket “yes,” and your child should understand this.
2) NO TO HUGS:
Allow your children to give and receive physical love on their terms. It teaches them that they have a voice. Allow children to decline a hug or kiss, and encourage the other adults in their lives to accept their decisions as well.
3) ASK THEM FOR PERMISSION:
When you’re about to touch your child or enter their personal space, ask them whether it’s acceptable. This will keep them in practice that how to react to different interactions in different ways. Use of phrases like:
“May I take your hand in mine?” “May I have a hug?”
“Would you mind letting me brush your hair?”
This simple technique can educate kids that they have control over who touches them.
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Sometimes reaching out to a parent may frighten us. At these times, you should reach out to a friend or a cousin who can help and guide you. If left unaddressed, these incidents may bolster the assaulter to continue with his or her acts and may damage more lives.
Each country has a helpline number to deal with sexual harassment. Hence do not hesitate to report any crime immediately. It will do you immense good in the long run!
Just remember – Sexual Consent is Mandatory – You have a Right to Say NO!
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