We need an Ireland focused on providing sexual health and consent classes to younger generations. Last year UCD cancelled consent workshops after a lack of student interest and we still have an outdated sexual health education system.
A new report proves just how crucial it is for young people to understand sexual health, sexual identity and consent. The survey by NUI Galway has discovered that two in five students believe binge drinking is a "normal and harmless" part of life. Led by Dr Padraig MacNeela, the research gives us an eye opening insight:
- One in five students (18%) believe that if both parties are drunk, there's no way the man can be accused of sexual assault or rape.
- Only 60% of heterosexual correspondents asked for consent on any sexual activity compared to bisexual (73%) and gay (68%).
- Over 70% of male students use pornography at least once a week compared to 14% of female students.
- Male students are 10% more likely to learn about sex and how to interact during sex through porn.
Speaking to The Sunday Independent, Minister for State Mary Mitchell O'Connor revealed the full report will be released in the coming weeks. The Government will draft new policy on consent from the reports findings.
Dr MacNeela insists the biggest change in attitudes has to be how alcohol impacts our ability to give consent.
As part of this survey, students read a version of a story in which a man and woman had sex during a hook-up after consuming 14 standard drinks (seven pints of beer). 21% students who responded said the female was too drunk to give consent while 13% said the male was too drunk to give consent.
In the case of students consuming 30 standard drinks, just 30% of students saw the male as being too drunk to give consent to sex, while 34% of students saw the female as been too drunk to give consent.
The study conducted the 'Smark Consent' workshop with students and the results before and after workshop was staggering.
Only 28% of students felt they had the skills to deal with consent before a workshop. After completing the workshop, 60% of students felt capable. 33% of students agreed you should always assume you don't have consent before sex while this increased to 47% after taking part in a workshop.
Dr MacNeela stresses that the workshops, if implemented across Ireland, would not be a lecture but a space to understand more about the nuances of consent and sex:
The workshop helps them to explore their existing knowledge and beliefs, particularly about how alcohol, pressure, and consent communication can shape how consent takes place.