What is consent? - Giving permission for something to happen. It amazes me how highly qualified individuals have trouble comprehending this simple 6 word definition.
Before discussing why consent is important, let’s understand what consent looks like in the sexual context. Consent is an agreement by all the parties involved to engage in a sexual activity. Consent is independent of gender, and can be given, as well as withdrawn by anyone, at any given point of time.
Consent should be explicitly and freely communicated. But consent is ongoing, and it should be communicated with the other party each and every time. Consent given once does not equate permission for sex always.
While talking about consent, it is imperative that we look at its legal aspect. Consent cannot be given by someone who is underage, intoxicated, or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol. Often, women are pressured into saying yes to sex, but let me state in clear and conspicuous words; intimidation, threat, or coercion does not equate to saying yes for sex. Anything other than yes, is a no.
There are a few forms of coercion which may look like consent, but are actually not. Emotional manipulation may look like ‘What’s the point of being in a relationship if you can’t have sex?’ indicating that the person would breakup with you if you disagree to sex.
Social pressure like saying ‘Don’t be a prude’ or ‘You’re too old to be a virgin’ intending for the person to give in to sex is also what consent does not look like. Unequal power dynamics like a boss asking an employee for sexual favors and the employee saying yes out of fear of losing their job also counts as violation of consent.
Violation of consent means breach of boundaries. Any healthy relationship cannot go on by disrespecting the boundaries of your partner. Respecting someone’s personal space is the most important as well as basic thing.
In India, a woman is raped every 16 minutes. Candle marches every now and then on Delhi Gate are living proof of how consent is an unfamiliar concept to India’s citizens. The only remedy to this problem of rape and sexual assualt is attacking the issue at its root. Absence of education relating to consent and sex is why boys grow up to be ignorant men who think women owe their bodies to them!
If students graduate from school at the age of 17 knowing how to solve algebra, but are completely alien to the concept of consent, is it really something worth celebrating?
One effective way to put an end to rapes and sexual assault is to destroy rape culture. Rape culture is reinforced in the minds of young boys by comments and jokes relating to rape, thereby creating an image of rape as not being a big deal.
So how can you, as an individual, contribute towards ending rape culture?
- Start by giving constructive input on how rape jokes and comments are not okay.
- Challenge victim blaming statements.
- Support the victims and give them a voice.
- Call out people belittling rape in the name of humor, because rape is not funny.
- If and when you witness sexual harassment anywhere, don’t tolerate the behavior, instead help expose the perpetrator.
- Spread awareness regarding how serious an offence rape is, and how traumatic it is to the victim.
Always remember, she was not asking for it, she was not wearing provocative clothing, and drinking is not an invitation for sex. There can be no justifications for rape. The only reason behind rape is the rapist.
Comment below and tell us why you think consent is important!
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