This year, National Sexual Health Week is focusing on the importance of consent. In a country where 75% of students do not believe they have been adequately prepared at school to have a comprehensive understanding of consent, educating and spreading awareness is as important as ever. This is according to a survey carried out in August 2020 by the independent government think tank, Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), who also found 58% of UK students think there should be a compulsory test on sexual consent.
Consent is a prerequisite to any form of sex and it is extremely important that everybody learns, both how to ask for, and how to give consent. Brook, the sexual health charity leading the consent campaign, is studying how we can understand consent in digital relationships, as well as making the way we learn about consent more inclusive of different genders and sexualities. They will be running multiple webinars, one of which will be focusing on empowering “boys and young men to take ownership of consent through relationships and sex education”, as stated on Brook’s website.
The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, will be available across campus this sexual health week to provide free condoms via the ‘C card scheme’, as well as chlamydia screenings so make sure to visit their stand.
The Harbour Centre is a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) based in Norfolk providing medical care and emotional support to victims of rape and serious sexual assault regardless of gender or age. Using their services does not require involving the police but they will support you doing so if this is the choice you wish to make. UEA students can also report sexual harassment or assault via the NeverOk system, or if they would prefer, they can get specialist support with the help of the SU.
It is always important to remember that an absence of ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes’ and if you are unsure whether somebody is consenting to something, just ask them.