WHAT IS SEXUAL CONSENT? WHAT IS RAPE?
Sexual consent involves an explicit agreement between people to have sex or engage in any sexual activity. Consent is necessary in all situations, including between people already in a relationship or marriage. Without sexual consent, sex is rather called rape. Both men and women have the right to refuse sex, and rape is a traumatic experience that can affect victims for many months or years. It can have negative physical impacts, like the spread of sexually-transmitted infections and, if the rape was violent, bruising and bleeding. It can also have negative psychological impacts, like anxiety and depression (Joyful Heart Foundation 2016). Statistically, women are more likely to be raped by men, but it is important to note that men can also be victims of rape.
WHY SEXUAL CONSENT IS IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN
Often, women have been and continue to be denied the same human rights as men, and it is important that this changes. Change will come partially through women understanding what they are entitled to because they are human. Recognising their right to refuse sex is part of recognising their broader rights as a woman. It reflects the autonomy, independence and power they have has. Your body and your mind belongs only to you, and because of this, a woman does not need to engage in any sexual activity she does not want to, or feel pressured to please anyone by taking part when she does not feel comfortable. Sex should only occur if it is something both people involved have chosen to do. Sex is a natural and enjoyable part of life if it is done with consent.
WHY SEXUAL CONSENT IS IMPORTANT FOR MEN AND FOR RELATIONSHIPS
A relationship is built on trust, mutual respect for each other and care. For both partners to demonstrate this to each other means that they recognise each other’s value as humans. This is especially important for the recognition of women’s rights, and the equality of men and women. You can read more about the importance of this for not only women’s personal development but for the development of society in some of our other books.
Rape demonstrates disrespect for the other person and their wellbeing, and because of this, it cannot be part of any loving, healthy relationship. An important way to show your partner that you appreciate them and their value is to make sure you always have sexual consent before engaging in any sexual activity with them. A good way to do this is by verbally asking them if they would like to have sex. This is called affirmative consent.