Sexual consent legislation
Sir, – It is welcome news that a definition of consent is to be included in the new Sexual Offences Bill (“Sexual consent legislation to be submitted for Cabinet approval”, January 24th).
Having a definition of consent will provide greater guidance for juries and allow judges to give jurors clearer directions in rape cases. These cases are notoriously complex and proving a serious offence such as rape had occurred will always be very difficult given that it is one person’s word against another’s in a situation where there is little, if any, corroborating evidence.
It would be naive to expect that a definition of consent could overcome all of these difficulties. However, a definition of consent will have a powerful symbolic effect and can begin a process of change by sending a clear message of what consent is.
A positive legal message about consent will support the various social initiatives such as the Union of Students of Ireland Consent Workshops and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s Ask Consent campaign, which seek to prevent these heinous crimes. It will also support the various sex education programmes in schools. Having a positive legal definition of consent provides a more robust platform from which to educate our children, young people and the public about consent. – Yours, etc,
Templeogue, Dublin 6W.