When discussing consent to sex in our AS Religious Studies lesson some students were curious why there needs to be debate on what consent actually means, when people are about to have sex.
Less than a few weeks later is appears that some people really do need lessons on consent after all. “I have never been taught about anything like that” said the footballer Ched Evans in his first interview since being found innocent of rape on Friday. He was speaking about the issue of sexual consent, which became the central argument in the court proceedings that first sent him to jail but then established his innocence at a retrial. He has now told the Mail on Sunday that “in this day and age, people need educating” on the issue.
Students unions at universities across Britain have been providing consent workshops for years. Alice Tithecott, from Oxford University, said: “I felt reassured by the adult and mature discussions we had surrounding matters of consent, and in particular being given the opportunity to explore different perspectives and issues regarding consent in a safe environment. I feel that this workshop was an invaluable part of freshers’ week because it creates dialogue about issues which may otherwise be considered taboo.”
The courses run by colleges and football clubs have been praised by sex education experts, although some argue the issue of consent needs to be raised much earlier in a young person’s life. A spokeswoman from Brook, the young people’s sexual health and well-being charity, said: “We believe that every young person should have these lessons at school and from a young age.”
She quoted one of the young people that works with the charity, who said: “If my sex education had taught that consent is a sober, continuous, verbal, and enthusiastic Yes rather than just the absence of a No, I might not have had to assure my friend that she didn’t cheat on her boyfriend – another man raped her.”