Asking for It: Sexual Consent Campaign Pushes for ‘Clear Yes’ Requirement in Law

In a groundbreaking movement, advocates are leading the “I’m Asking For It” campaign, calling for legal reform to prioritize affirmative consent in sexual interactions, aiming to challenge entrenched norms and empower survivors in the pursuit of justice. Here’s the full story.

Shift in Perception

There has been a decided shift in the perception of cases of sexual violence, particularly since the #MeToo campaign and well-documented cases of crimes against women. 

These cases, and hundreds of others that have not received the same press attention, have only added to the concerns of equality activists and legal campaigners over the handling of sexual violence cases in the UK.

Following these cases, a new campaign has emerged, spearheaded by lawyers and activists, calling for a seismic shift in how consent is understood and upheld in the United Kingdom. 

“I’m Asking For It”

The new campaign, “I’m Asking For It,” aims to revolutionize the sexual consent laws currently on the books, advocating for the adoption of a “clear yes” standard to ensure that all sexual activity is unequivocally consensual. 

Dr. Charlotte Proudman, a prominent barrister who is leading the charge through her organization Right To Equality, emphasized the urgent need to reframe the conversation around sexual consent.

Proudman told the Evening Standard, “Instead of scrutinizing the actions of the victim all the time, we need to scrutinize the actions of the alleged rapist – we need to look at what they’ve done, what steps they’ve taken.”

She continued: “A lot of victims describe feeling blamed by the system, disbelieved, some of them are turned away, others feel gaslit. That’s because all of the questions are about what they allowed to happen to them instead of: ‘How did he make sure she enthusiastically wanted to have sex?’”

Affirmative Consent

At the heart of the campaign lies affirmative consent—an approach that mandates a proactive, enthusiastic affirmation of willingness from all parties involved. 

Dr. Proudman contends that anything less than a “clear, uncoerced, and informed confirmation of consent” should not be deemed acceptable under the law. 

By explicitly requiring individuals to obtain affirmative consent, the campaign aims to dispel ambiguity and ensure that sexual encounters are grounded in mutual respect and autonomy.

Progressive Laws

The UK’s current laws on rape and consent are considered progressive compared to those in other European countries. In the UK, the legal definition is penetration without consent, unlike in countries such as France, where the use of force or violence is required to prove the definition of rape. 

However, the Right for Equality campaign argues that the UK’s current laws can fall short in practice because “the public isn’t always clear about what consent means.”

Alarmingly Low

Official statistics reveal alarmingly low prosecution rates for rape cases, with survivors often forced to endure grueling legal battles to obtain justice. 

Dr. Proudman asserts that implementing an affirmative consent model could serve as a catalyst for change, bolstering prosecution efforts and instilling greater confidence in the legal system among survivors.

Beyond its implications for legal proceedings, the “I’m Asking For It” campaign seeks to catalyze broader societal shifts in attitudes towards sex and consent. 

Dr. Proudman envisions a ripple effect extending into educational institutions, workplaces, and everyday interactions, where affirmative consent becomes the norm rather than the exception. 

Challenging Norms

The campaign aims to create safer, more equitable environments for all individuals by challenging societal norms and building a culture of accountability.

In response to mounting pressure, the Ministry of Justice acknowledged the gravity of the issue, stating, “Rape is a horrific crime which can impact victims for the rest of their lives. That’s why we asked the Law Commission to examine how evidence is used to ensure victims are treated fairly and without harmful misconceptions.”

They continued: “We have also quadrupled victim support funding compared to 2010, launched a 24/7 rape support line, rolled out pre-recorded cross-examination for vulnerable witnesses and are overhauling the way police investigate these crimes. This approach is working, with the number of people prosecuted for adult rape up 54% in the last year.”

Parliamentary Debate

Despite these assertions, the campaign remains steadfast in its pursuit of legislative change, rallying the public to support a petition that, once 100,000 signatures are collected, would lead to a parliamentary debate. 

As the debate around sexual consent continues in broader society, the “I’m Asking For It” campaign serves as a profound reminder to victims of sexual assault that they are not alone and is leading the charge in its hopes of seeing affirmative consent as the standard for any sexual interactions. 

The post Asking for It: Sexual Consent Campaign Pushes for ‘Clear Yes’ Requirement in Law first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / ElenaBaryshnikova.

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