Submitted by gillian.edwards on Wed, 10/12/2016 - 10:48am
Sexual activity without consent is always a crime. Consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity.
Under the law (Age of Consent to Sexual Activity and No Means No: Understanding Consent to Sexual Activity) there is no consent under the following conditions:
- The agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the complainant. In other words, no one else can give consent on your behalf.
- The complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity. In other words, you can't give consent if you are incapable of doing so due to alcohol or other mind-altering substances or if you are unconscious or sleeping.
- The accused induces the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority. In other words, you cannot give consent where a person in a position of authority such as a professor, for example, pressures you to have sex in exchange for grades or other benefits.
- The complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity. In other words, the onus is on the initiator of the activity to ensure they have consent.
- The complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity. In other words, you can withdraw your consent at any point.
There is no such thing as "implied consent" under the law. Thus, belief that consent was granted is not a defence against a charge of sexual assault under the following conditions:
The accused's belief arose from the accused's:
- self-induced intoxication, or
- recklessness or willful blindness; or
- The accused did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the accused at the time, to ascertain that the complainant was consenting.
In other words, it is the responsibility of all individuals engaged in sexual activity to ask for consent and to be in a state where they can clearly comprehend when consent is granted. It is not the responsibility of an individual to be in a competent state to grant consent. If consent is not explicitly granted, or if the individual is not in a competent state to grant consent, then it does not exist.
The Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club is a feminist anti-racist club at the University of Calgary that seeks to educate young Calgarians about consent as a means of sexual assault prevention. We believe that preventative measures focusing on potential perpetrators are more effective than preventative measures focusing on potential victims. We hope to educate the public as well as University of Calgary students about what consent is – and help foster an environment where consent is requested and respected in sexual relationships.
For more information about their initiatives and activities, visit www.ucalgarycase.ca
Ask First is a three-year project launched in Fall 2015 by the Women's Resource Centre, University of Calgary, in collaboration with the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club.
Through Ask First we are aiming to:
- Create a campus culture where victim blaming is no longer tolerated and the concept of consent is understood and practiced in the community so all students feel safe and respected.
- To empower students to create change in their own communities by starting conversations that challenge negative stereotypes and myths about sexual assault.
- To facilitate collaboration among campus groups to ensure there are no gaps in sexual assault prevention and support services.
This project is funded by the Students’ Union Quality Money. You can find out more on their website here.