One of the reasons why rape culture perpetuates and it is so difficult to prosecute rapists is that many people do not fully understand the lines surrounding consent. Studies show that a significant portion of young people believe that you cannot withdraw consent after you are naked or if you have already begun sexual activity. However, this is not the case and each of us has the right to say no.
Misunderstandings regarding the meaning of such terminology are reflected across age groups. This may be because the definition of rape is much broader than what people originally perceived, and there continues to be a lack of universal agreement amongst different countries. For example, Amnesty International reported that only 9 out of 31 European countries define rape as being any type of sex without consent. In some countries, rape is classed as only forced penis penetration into a vagina, anus or mouth. This use of terminology is criticised, as it suggests that only men can be the perpetrators of rape.
Artist: Bridget Moore
A study by the Department of Justice in 2007 reported that 35% of people did not report experiencing sexual assault because they were unsure as to whether a crime had taken place. This has been evidenced across the literature, and it indicates the need to communicate openly and honestly about sex and consent in our society. (Time)
In 2015, research by The Washington Post found that 18% of college students believe that an individual has provided consent to sexual intercourse if they do not say “no”. However, this fails to recognise that in some situations a person may feel coerced or threatened, or even be too incapacitated voice their objection. Sex in such situations is still rape. Furthermore, a study in the UK reported that a third of men felt that a woman could not change their mind after sex had begun; in comparison with 23% of female participants. (Cornell University)
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