The nuances of sexual consent have been on the table recently thanks to the #MeToo movement, and one state in Australia is trying to clarify what consent should actually look like.
The new law states, in effect, that if you want to have sex you must ask for it clearly, and then hear a verbal “yes” back, under new reforms announced by the New South Wales (NSW) government in Australia, the New York Post reports.
The state, which is on the east coast of Australia (Sydney is its capital), has placed sexual consent at the core of a strategy to battle sexual assault after a high-profile rape case seemed to show that the existing laws did not protect victims.
A man named Luke Lazarus was acquitted of rape after a five-year criminal legal battle, despite a jury and two judges finding the woman, then 18, had not consented to sex with him behind his father’s nightclub in 2013. While the jury found the woman had not consented, the legal issue was if Lazarus knew she was not consenting. Both conditions are required to prosecute successfully under the current laws.
Under the package, which also seeks to protect against sexual harassment in the workplace, a $1 million advertising campaign will teach people how to “obtain a clear yes.” The campaign will target young adults in bars and clubs and via social media, with messages like “no means no” and “silence is not a yes.”
ABC News reports that the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Pru Goward, wants the campaign to shift to cultural attitudes around what constitutes sexual assault and make it “second nature” to request verbal consent.
According to Australian publication Whimn, sexual assaults in NSW have risen, with the latest figures revealing a 12 percent increase in victims in the last 12 months. More than 13,000 incidents were reported to NSW Police in 12 months.
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