A national three-year consent campaign that aims to drive a behavioural change about sexual consent is being rolled out this morning.
The campaign is led by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) and Community Foundation Ireland and is supported by the Department of Justice.
We-Consent is designed to tackle the issue of what sexual consent is and how it is given.
Community Foundation Ireland chief executive Denise Charlton said there is a “huge lack of understanding” around the issue and that We-Consent represents a “long overdue conversation on sex and relationships”.
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The We-Consent campaign will run for the next three years with workshops and communication initiatives planned nationally to help inform and engage the population. Information will be provided with the aim of informing open, inclusive and progressive conversations.
Research done by DRCC found 70 per cent of people think we have a problem with consent in Ireland, while one in three people are embarrassed to talk about sex.
[ Everything you want to know about consent but were afraid to ask ]
The research also showed a misunderstanding of consent, with one in five people agreeing that sometimes people say no to sex when they want convincing.
According to the same research, 84 per cent of people in Ireland agreed that we need age-appropriate sex education in school, and 60 per cent say consent is a responsibility for all society and needs State action.
The qualitative research found a strong desire among parents to empower their children when it comes to consent.
The research also suggested that moving the conversation towards sexual equality will empower both men and women, leaving people feeling valued, respected and accepted.
DRCC chief executive Noeline Blackwell said the aim of the campaign is to emphasise the positive values of consent that in turn can help reduce the levels of sexual violence.
“We believe a greater understanding of consent will make our society more equal, happier and healthier – as well as safer,” she added.
“Every one of us has capacity to learn more and do more when it comes to consent and this campaign will need every one of us to come on board to create a real shift in our society – not only for the next generation, but also for here and now.
“We believe this campaign will spark long overdue conversations about the kind of values we want to define us and the meaning of equality within our culture – Ireland is ready for these conversations,” she said.
Minister for Justice Simon Harris said it was time to “talk honestly and openly about consent, sex and relationships.
He added: “We all have a role to play in this national conversation, regardless of age, gender, sexuality or relationship status. This campaign adds to the work that Government is doing in our Zero Tolerance Strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence to achieve a society which does not accept these crimes or the attitudes which underpin them.”