Consent is a highly misunderstood concept in India. With the #MeToo movement taking the country by the storm, there are men who are completely clueless as to which of their actions would be considered sexual harassment. We help you understand what is consent and what is not.
What is Consent?
There are four levels. Let’s delve into them:
1. Informed Consent
Both the parties involved in any form of sexual activity should be informed of all the risks, contraception options and the complete situation before making a decision. Both the parties should be awake and without any external influence of alcohol or drugs.
Both parties should want to participate in the sexual activity eagerly. If even one of them is feeling less than excited, it is time to stop and re-evaluate.
Consent at the beginning does not mean it’s accepted throughout. A person can withdraw participation in the middle of an act if they are not comfortable. If a person agrees to an initial activity like kissing, it does not mean she is willing to extend it further into other activities.
4. Without coercion
The consent is not valid if it is given under any fear, force, pressure or guilt.
Consent is very difficult to understand in a patriarchal society where women do not have a lot of say whatsoever. Apart from that, women expressing their willingness for having sex is also considered scandalous and a taboo. In such a scenario, it becomes very difficult for women to express themselves clearly.
There is never a clear “yes” or “no” in consent among Indian women. There are grey areas like, “I wanted to say yes, but I would be judged if I would have said yes,” or “I didn’t want to say yes, but I didn’t want him to feel bad, and so I caved in.” Both these cases are violations.
In order to make the conversation of what is consent clearer, it is important for women to understand that no matter how difficult it is for them to verbalise, sending out mixed signals is dangerous. Everyone needs to understand their partner’s feelings, choices and body language in order to avoid doing anything that might hurt them.