A piece in today’s Times:
Sex will be deemed rape unless a woman gives vocal consent to a man first, a minister for Australia’s most populous state has proposed.
Pru Goward, the New South Wales minister for the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, said: “If you want sex you have to ask for it, and if you want that sex, you have to say yes.”
Ms Goward said today that the state is seeking to enshrine the requirement for a woman’s “audible” consent in law, and that its main law advisory body has been tasked with reporting on how the legislation should be drafted. “Often you don’t say no. You say nothing, and that’s why you need to say yes,” she said.
In the meantime, ahead of the potential change to the law, the state is introducing a new sexual assault strategy in which couples intending to have sex will be urged to seek and receive audible consent.
“It should be, ‘Do you want to have sex with me?’ And the answer’s got to come back, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. [J4MB emphasis] Not, ‘She was too drunk, but she did say earlier that she would’,” said Ms Goward, a former Australian Broadcasting Corporation political correspondent and television host. “It is a responsibility, both in the ask and in the reply.”
She said that a woman’s consent before sex must be clear, and that a “no means no” approach was not good enough. “We have young men and women, teenagers, talking about sex and committing sexual acts in a way that previous generations can’t imagine. If it’s that explicit, then let’s change the manners that go with modern sexual behaviour,” she added.
The minister had been motivated to introduce a change in the law after the case of Saxon Mullins, a teenager who said she had been raped in Sydney in 2013. She accused Luke Lazarus of raping her in an alleyway behind his father’s nightclub. He was acquitted after a five-year legal case.
Ms Mullins, who was on her first outing to Sydney’s nightclub district, said she had not consented to sex, but told a court that she had frozen in fear and did not immediately say no.
Ms Mullins, who is now 23, earlier this year waived her right to anonymity to tell her story in a widely viewed television documentary that sparked a national debate about sexual consent. After the broadcast, the New South Wales government referred the issue of sexual consent to the state’s law reform commission.
Under the new sexual assault strategy the government will tell young adults socialising in pubs, clubs and on university campuses that “no means no” via social media, posters, and beer coasters with messages such as “silence is not a yes”.