A video by the Thames Valley Police brilliantly captures the issue of sexual consent using the analogy of making a cup of tea.
The short film features stick people, together with a simple narration and cycles through some of the main scenarios where consent lines can blur and potentially lead to coercion, manipulation, sexual assault, rape and, in many cases, victims wrongly being blamed.
On the issue of consent, as the video illustrates, if someone does not want a cup of tea you cannot force them to drink a cup of tea.
- They are entitled to say no;
- They are entitled to say yes, but then change their mind;
- They are entitled to go to sleep without fear of having a cup of tea forced on them.
The law similarly recognises that people who say ‘no’ to sex are not giving their consent, nor are those who are drunk, asleep or otherwise not in their right frame of mind due to drugs or other substances. These people are not consenting, and cannot, give consent.
Behaving as though consent is present, where the other person does not explicitly say “no”, or is incapable of expressing their lack of consent, does not change the fact that forcing someone to perform a sexual act against their will is a crime.
Everyone has an inviolable right to physical autonomy over their own body, and to make decisions about what they do and do not want to happen to their body. This is a basic human right.
At the end of the day, consent could not be more simple:
If the answer is not a HELL YES,
then it is a HELL NO!
A split second decision to take away a person’s right to choose what happens to their body has the potential to destroy multiple lives. As many sex offenders and paedophiles have recently discovered, the long arm of the law can:
- reach out and similarly violate you at a time and place when you least expect it (perhaps months, or even years, later)
- remove your personal rights and freedoms without your permission by imposing substantial jail time; and
- irrevocably ruin your ability to enjoy a normal life by being labelled a sex offender.
In no circumstances does anyone have an entitlement, or legitimate expectation, of sex for the time, effort and cost they may have incurred in the pursuit of that purpose. When it comes to decisions about another person’s body, no one – aside from that person – has any real or perceived rights.
*This article is based on the NSW Crimes Act 1900
If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of sexual assault contact:
Local police assistance line: 131 444
- New South Wales
- Western Australia
- Australian Capital Territory
- South Australia
- Northern Territory
Get in touch with a counselling service:
- National Counselling Helpline: 1800 737 732 (1800 RESPECT) (National)
- National Sexual Assault & Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service
- Sexual Assault Services Throughout Australia
- Reach Out
- Centre Against Sexual Assault