Most people in Ireland believe that there is a problem with sexual consent in Ireland, according to new research commissioned by Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC).
A national study, Real Consent in Ireland looks at attitudes to, and understanding of, sexual consent across all adult age groups.
DRCC, which shared the study’s findings in an online event on Wednesday (20 October), has also announced a national project that it says is aimed at making consent “a national topic of conversation”.
“We in Dublin Rape Crisis Centre have long believed there is a problem with consent in Ireland,” said DRCC chair Anne-Marie Gill.
“This research confirms that that most people – 70% – agree with us. While as a people, we understand the theory of consent, it is not always so clear that this translates to practical understanding,” she added.
The centre points to several issues highlighted by the research – including a belief that consent can be ignored, and a lack of understanding of the right to withdraw consent.
The DRCC also sees positive indicators, however, with around 90% of women and 80% of men agreeing that everyone has the right to change their mind at any point during sex.
Almost 85% believe age-appropriate sex education is needed in all schools.
According to the centre, however, the study also shows that “significant minorities” think that having had sex previously, flirting, or not clearly objecting all signify willingness to engage in sex.
DRCC chief executive Noeline Blackwell (small picture) welcomed the new data, describing it as a “starting point” from which Irish society could begin to talk more about consent.
She added that DRCC’s new project would be a long-term initiative, working with survivors, individuals, and communities across the country to help better understand consent and its importance.