Sexual consent is when you and another person both agree that you want to have sex.
It is a choice that you should be able to make without feeling pressured or manipulated in any way, and not when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Even if you have said yes to something, you can change your mind at any time; It does not matter if you have been intimate before with that person. If you started off wanting to have sex with someone you can say “no” or “stop” at any time. You have the final say about what happens to your body.
Saying yes to one thing does not automatically mean that you have said yes to another, so for example, saying yes to oral sex with someone is not the same as saying you want vaginal or anal sex.
Consent is never implied, for example by past behaviour, what you are wearing or where you go. Only yes means yes.
Consent is a fundamental issue in rape and other sexual assault cases because the prosecution is required to prove to the court that the victim did not consent, and the suspect did not have a reasonable belief that the victim was consenting. This is not the case with children, who do not have the capacity to consent to sexual activity.
- The age of consent to any sexual activity for anyone is 16.
- There are specific laws in place for children under 13, who cannot legally give consent to any sexual activity.
- A child under the age of 18 cannot consent where the person is in a position of authority or care.
- If someone repeatedly asks for your consent and you say no, this can be seen as sexual harassment.