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Understanding Consent

Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorneys

Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorneys Discuss Consent

Rape and sexual harassment are ever-present crimes in the USA but are often overlooked – with a less than five percent total conviction rate. This could be because of the ambiguity surrounding the definitions of rape and consent, the lack of knowledge underlying the spectrum of sexual coercion, or even the propensity of shame among victims.. Here are some facts about consent to clear the ambiguity and raise much needed awareness.

What is Consent?
Consent is defined as explicit and sincere agreement to sexual activity. Human rights make up the core of the concept of consent; the innate right to control one’s body and to choose to be or not to be engaged in sexual relations. It is accepted that the person initiating the sexual encounter is responsible for obtaining said consent from the other party before taking action of any kind.

Consent is Explicit
Explicit is defined as something stated clearly and in detail that therefore leaves no room for confusion or doubt. This means that any form of body language cannot be assumed as consent or invitation for engagement in sexual activity. Eye contact, smiling, embracing, leaning in, and even flirtatious behavior do not constitute consent. In the event of a relationship with someone who cannot communicate verbally, an explicit agreed upon method of communication is required. This ensures that there is no room for misinterpretation or violation of any human rights.

Consent is Sincere
Consent requires purposeful acceptance of the other party. It should therefore be freely and clearly offered. This means that there must be no forms of persuasion, manipulation, intimidation, or force used in attempts to gain consent. Consent means that a person should feel free to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at any time during sexual activity without fear of repercussion.

Consent is Ongoing
Consent is active agreement before every sexual activity – saying ‘yes’ to one act or having had sex before does not always equal the assumption of consent. Both parties have the right to withdraw consent at any point during the process. It is important to discuss what you are and are not comfortable with and to establish boundaries within relationships to ensure respect of your partner and their rights at all times.

Consent is Dependent on Capacity
This means that both parties must be capable of making informed decisions; they must have the capacity to give consent. For example, in the presence of inebriation, a person is no longer considered able to give consent. Some people specifically use drugs or alcohol to loosen the inhibitions of another party or as a means of excusing their own actions. In cases of the latter, the laws against rape still apply regardless of the intoxication status of the perpetrator.

“Consent is an established right, not a removable luxury.” We should actively be working to empower each other so that guilt no longer falls on the victims of sexual coercion and so that violations of these rights are taken seriously. If it’s not a clear yes, it’s a no. Letting a harasser know that their behavior is unwelcomed and makes you uncomfortable is the first step to dealing with this misconduct. Our attorneys specialize in Labor, Employment, and Sexual Harassment Law in Los Angeles so contact us today if you have any questions about sex, consent, coercion, or sexual harassment or if you would like to take action in defending your rights.


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