By Claire O’Brien
As part of ‘Ask First ‘week, a discussion took place in the SU regarding consent and domestic violence. We had representatives from APADT as well as Dublin Rape Crisis centre.
Susan from the UL Law department and Dublin Rape Crisis has been researching consent from a legal perspective since 2007. At present, there is no legal definition of consent however we are beginning to see some changes here.
Deirdre from ADAPT domestic abuse services stated that the conversation surrounding consent has become more open in the last couple of years. She put emphasis on the fact that older women in Ireland had very little understanding of their right to say no to sex.
Essentially they were a “plaything” for their husbands and had to simply put up with sex. This solidified that fact that knowledge and awareness of consent is necessary for both parties in a sexual relationship.
Questions surrounding victim blaming were also brought up at the discussion. In particular, how do we differentiate between victim blaming and personal safety? Do we place too much responsibility on the potential victims instead of potential perpetrators?
Consent classes were also discussed at the meeting. This is a very topical issue at the moment due to Trinity’s introduction of consent classes for students in on-campus accommodation. Our speakers emphasised the fact that the purpose of consent classes was not to demonise men but rather help educate people on their right to say no, as well as respecting boundaries.