World Sexual Health Day is celebrated on 4th September. The theme of the day in 2023 is consent! Everyone has the right to physical integrity and sexual integrity. Everyone has the right to decide for themselves with whom, when and how to have sex.
Consent is the most important element of a positive sexual encounter. It means respecting the bodily autonomy and decision-making rights of others. Sex should be comfortable and joyful for everyone involved. Sex without consent is sexual violence.
Here are six things you need to know about consent:
- In sex, it means that every sexual act and touch must have the permission of all the participants of sex. No one’s body may be touched without permission.
- Consent must be in a sexual situation and also in other situations, such as hugging, kissing or sending intimate pictures to another person.
- Consent must be freely and willingly expressed. If another person has been pressured or manipulated into sex or has not been able to refuse sex due to for example being under influence of drugs of alcohol, there is no permission for sex.
- Consent cannot be assumed. For example, there cannot be a general assumption about sex in a relationship, but consent in a sexual situation must always be ensured.
- Mutual agreement on contraception is important factor of consensual sex. Contraception shouls always be mutually negotiated and it cannot be changed without consent. For example, if a condom has been agreed to be used, it cannot be taken off in the middle of sex without the other person’s permission.
- Consent to one thing does not mean it to everything. For example, if you have been willing to have oral sex, it does not mean an automatic desire for intercourse, for example. You can also change your mind during sex.
Read about this year’s theme and test your knowledge about it from the website of World Sexual Health Day: worldsexualhealthday.org/consent
New legislation on sexual offences entered into force on 1 January 2023.
New legislation on sexual offences entered into force on 1 January 2023. On the new legislation the definition of rape is now based on consent. The change was a significant step forward in strengthening sexual self-determination!
The current law defines rape as having sexual intercourse with a person who does not participate voluntarily. Participation in sex is not considered voluntary if a person has not expressed his/hers/their voluntariness verbally or in any other way or has been unable to express the will due to coercion or circumstances. Read more about the Sexual Offences Act here.