Across the education sector, the issue of consent education is becoming growing in profile - yet it's still contentious. Holly makes a passionate case for why teaching consent is core to sexual education.
Recently in the UK there has been controversy over the introduction of consent classes at universities. Whilst some argue that the classes are patronising, proponents argue that consent is still greatly misunderstood and can lead to myths surrounding rape, high hyper-masculinity on all genders, and makes people shame their peers for their sexual preferences or sexual activity. Sex education in the UK and around the world is severely lacking.
Firstly, understanding consent removes much of the supposed ‘grey area’ of rape. Education is an important tool is reducing rape. Currently in the UK 1 in 5 women (aged 16-49) has experienced sexual assault in her lifetime. We need to work at preventing this.
Furthermore, many rape survivors unwilling to report their ordeal. Educating young people about the seriousness of assault is vital to remove the harmful and unnecessary stigma surrounding sexual assault.
Open dialogue and reduced stigma is also key to the success of sexual education. By teaching about consent and the rights to our own bodies, we can reduce the stigma of sex. This is turn can result in young people actively learning about sexual health and more likely to access contraception.
Consent classes are not about blaming men. But I do believe they come far too late. Young adults already have a preconceived idea on what consent is. Furthermore, not having and understanding of consent earlier endangers young people, both from predators taking advantage of their vulnerability, and whilst they are tackling the confusing world of sexuality. We need to ensure that young people around the world understand that they are the only ones with rights to their own bodies. This autonomy should empower them to make their own healthy, sexual decisions throughout their life.