Attitudes towards sexual consent

On 6th December 2018, YouGov published a survey commissioned by SRT Grantee, End Violence Against Women, about attitudes towards sexual consent in the U.K. Around 4,000 people were interviewed for the survey, which sought to assess how public attitudes to sexual consent might influence the level of support survivors receive from families and friends, and conviction rates for rape and sexual assault.

The results highlighted a generational divide, whereby 35% of over 65s believe that non-consensual sex did not constitute rape, compared to only 16% of 16-24 year olds. A third of those surveyed believe rape hasn’t taken place if a woman is pressured but there is no physical violence involved. One third of the men surveyed believe that non-consensual sex with a woman who had flirted on a date would also not constitute rape.

The research shows that confusion and myths about rape are still very common. Over the last two decades women’s rights campaigners have sought to increase public understanding that most rapes take place between people who already know each other, rather than between strangers and that the law is unequivocal – sex without consent is rape, whatever the relationship

Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, spoke on The Today Programme on Radio 4 on 6th December and said: “we were shocked by the findings [to see] just how entrenched some really unhelpful and outdated attitudes towards rape and sexual violence are. The most common form of rape, which is where people know each other, is really not considered by lots of people to be real rape. That’s very problematic because those same people are serving on juries and they’re making decisions about whether or not to convict people.”

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