People must consent to sexual activity. Consent means giving permission for something to happen or agreeing to do something, without force or coercion. If it is not a clear, enthusiastic “yes” then it is a “no”.
- Must be given freely by all people involved
- Must be a clear YES
- Must not be assumed or implied
- Is never silence or the absence of NO
- Is active and ongoing
- Can change if anyone changes their mind
- Cannot be given if someone is impaired or unconscious
- Cannot exist under threats or coercion
- Does not carry over from one activity to another. Consent for one sexual activity is not consent for other or future sexual activities
- Does not exist if someone abuses a position of trust, power or authority[i]
Consent is required for any sexual activity. Physical exchanges in the workplace also require consent - for example, to hold someone’s hand, give a hug, touch someone’s hair, or touch a woman’s pregnant belly. These actions may seem harmless, but they cross someone’s personal space and boundaries. Always ask for consent before entering someone’s personal space or touching their body.
[i] Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Overcoming Barriers and Enhancing Supportive Responses: The Research on Sexual Violence against Women, Western University, May 2012, p.10.