What is Consent?

Consent is sexual permission and must be clear, knowing and voluntary.

In order to consent effectively to sexual activity an individual must be able to understand “who, what, when, where, why and how” with respect to that sexual activity. Consent or lack of consent may be expressed or implied. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you want sexually and what you don’t.

Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity. Silence – without actions demonstrating permission – cannot be assumed to show consent. Assent does not constitute consent if:

  • It is given by a person who lacks the mental capacity to authorize the conduct and such mental incapacity is manifest or known to the actor; or
  • It is given by a person who by reason of youth, mental disease or defect, intoxication, a drug-induced state, or any other reason is manifestly unable or known by the actor to be unable to make a reasonable judgment as to the nature or harmfulness of the conduct charged to constitute the offense; or
  • It is induced by force, duress or deception.

Video provided by Who Are You?, Wellington, New Zealand (2011).