by Yas Necati
Campaign4Consent is a student-led campaign asking the UK government to make teaching about sexual assault, consensual sexual contact, and healthy relationships a compulsory part of the national Sex Education curriculum. The campaign was started by three of us SPARK girls over here in the UK. We all feel, as young people, that the current curriculum is letting us down when it comes to relationships guidance and the social side of sex and sexual experiences. We feel that it is absolutely essential that young people are taught that “no means no” and about enthusiastic consent, and that we are taught about rape and sexual assault, including resources for victims. Victim-blaming is rife in schools, and schools also have the highest rate of sexual assault than any other environment in the UK. Putting consent in the curriculum is vital to ensure healthy, happy relationships for a future generation. It’s absurd that we aren’t teaching about it already…
When 1 in 5 women in our country will experience sexual assault in her lifetime, there’s definitely a problem. We’re victim-blaming like crazy, always forgetting to look to the actual cause of the rape: the rapist. Not the girl with her “skirt too short” or the girl who was walking “alone at night.” No. The rapist is the one who should be blamed. The way to prevent rape is not to tell women to look and act a certain way, it’s to target the those who think that it’s ok to abuse women, to hurt us, to treat us as less than them and less than human.
When I was only 12, I was sexually assaulted in a classroom. We need to stop allowing sexual assault into young people’s lives, and start pushing it out. Assault should not be something that happens in school, out of school, or anywhere. However consent is something that should be happening everywhere. If we educate young people, we give a future generation the tools and the knowledge to make more informed, healthier and happier sexual choices. Even if this only prevents one person from being raped, that’s one life we’ve changed.
Says Georgia, one of Campaign4Consent’s cofounders: “the world can never be changed without the correct education – that’s something I know for sure to be true. I’m passionate about Campaign4Consent because it is a step towards creating an education system which takes not only grades into account but emotions and our generation’s individual and collective futures. I want everyone to grow up understanding and caring about respecting one another. Campaign4Consent isn’t just about laws and attitudes; it’s also something that has personal resonance. When I hear people at school make “rape jokes,” as though such humor is not only funny but commendable, it makes me feel sick – sexual assault is never funny, and joking about it isn’t ok, it’s just offensive. Sadly, situations in which these kind of jokes are made are commonplace, although I know I’m not the only one who finds them deplorable. I’m hoping that Campaign4Consent will be able to change the way we talk about sex and the way we discuss assault: that’s why the campaign matters not only to me, but for every person across the country.”
You can join the Campaign4Consent by submitting your stories about sex ed & consent to firstname.lastname@example.org and sharing our letter to the Department of Education. You don’t need to live in the UK to get involved! We’re seeking stories and support from around the world, because sexual assault and sex education are global issues that affect all of us: teachers, students, and parents alike.