In the UK, sexual consent is currently not a fundamental aspect of mainstream sex and relationship education and consequently the message of consent is not communicated as an essential part of all sexual interactions.
According to a 2015 Telegraph report, a third of female students in Britain have endured a sexual assault or unwanted advances at university and 1 in 8 men have also been subjected to groping or unwanted advances. It is clear that something needs to change.
Having everyday conversations about consent can be a way of engaging people who haven’t had the chance to engage in informed discussions whilst growing up. It’s important to communicate to people that they must not feel ashamed to willingly engage in or to reject sexual activity, and to normalise the act of acknowledging and respecting people’s personal boundaries.
Learning about consent is also vital to identifying sexual assault and supporting survivors of sexual assault by outlining and understanding that sexual activity without consent is a crime for which only the perpetrator can be blamed. Changing the way in which we educate on this subject would also help alleviate the problems of the emerging University LAD culture that is often to blame for incorrect understandings of sexual consent and instances of sexual harassment and rape.