Consent is defined in the Sexual Offences NI Order 2007 when a person agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice; including not being impaired by alcohol or drugs.
It is an offence of sexual assault for a person intentionally to touch another person sexually without reasonable belief that they consented. Touching covers all physical contact, whether with a part of their body, with another object, or through clothing. Examples of sexual assault or rape can include;
- Sexual contact with someone whom you reasonably should have known was impaired due to the use of alcohol or other drugs.
- Sexual contact with someone who is “passed out” or sleeping.
- Sexual contact with someone who is unable to say “no” and/or change his/her mind due to the presence of coercion or intimidation.
- Sexual contact with someone who is under the legal age to consent.
Consent can never be assumed. For example, the need for seeking consent still applies:
- If you are married
- If you have had sexual relationships with the person before, or are in a relationship with the person
- If the person previously gave consent but later changed their mind
- Making sure you get and give consent really matters.
- Sex without consent is rape.
- Sexual assault is always the perpetrator’s fault.
- Sexual assault is an offence that can result in imprisonment.