Consent is essentially giving permission for something to happen. In terms of sexual activity, a person consents to sexual activity if that person agrees ‘by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice” as defined in The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (England and Wales) and The Sexual Offences Act Order 2008 (Northern Ireland. In the Scottish Sexual Offences Act 2009, consent is defined as “free agreement”.
Sexual consent can be defined as the agreement to engage in sexual activity when someone has the freedom and capacity to do so.
Planned Parenthood talk about how consent is as easy as FRIES:
Consent creates clarity as everybody knows what everybody wants and what they are expecting. Checking with someone that you have their consent shows respect – it demonstrates that you care about the other person’s boundaries. Consent will protect you from repercussions.
If you’re unsure whether someone is consenting or not – ask!
We can all help to create a health consult culture which is a culture in which asking for consent, establishing and respecting personal boundaries is normalised through social attitudes, images and practices. Consent goes beyond just sex and applies to everyday interactions.
It’s not consent, if you or someone else was:
Consent is about communication, it’s an ongoing process of talking about what you do and don’t feel comfortable with.
Consent can be expressed verbally or through non-verbal actions (like smiling and nodding). These actions don’t replace consent but are additional details that may reflect consent. It is always necessary however to seek verbal consent.
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