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Sexual consent: Do you know the rules?

What is sexual consent?

It's not just about accepting to participate in sexual activity. It is also about accepting it in the moment and with full awareness of one's actions. Consent must be free, voluntary and informed. When someone feels pressured to agree, the consent is not valid.

Here are some rules to know about sexual consent:

  1. You should ALWAYS have a clear agreement from your partner. Whether it's by words or by gestures.

  2. Consent must be verified by taking reasonable steps. This can be as simple as asking orally if the person consents.

  3. Another person cannot give consent for you! The consent must come from you and you alone!

  4. Even if a sexual relationship is underway, one person may want to stop at any time. As soon as one person says no, the sexual activity must stop. You have the right to your limits!

  5. If a person agrees to kiss, it doesn't mean they agree to everything else! A person can consent to kiss, but not consent to touch the other person's sex. Consent must be given for every sexual act.

  6. Consent is not valid when the person is severely intoxicated. Whether it is by drugs, medication or alcohol. We are talking about an intoxication that makes the person no longer aware of what he or she is doing.

  7. Consent is not valid when the person is asleep or unconscious. Even if the person had given it before falling asleep or becoming unconscious.

  8. Consent cannot be planned in advance! It must be given at the time the sexual activity takes place. If the person consents in the morning for an activity that will take place in the evening, he or she may not want to give it back at the scheduled time.

  9. Just because you buy him or her flowers and buy him or her dinner doesn't mean he or she has to consent!

  10. Force or threats should NEVER be used to have sex. If a person agrees to the use of force or threats, the consent is not valid.

  11. A person cannot use their position of authority/trust to influence a person to consent. It would, therefore, be illegal for a supervisor to threaten a colleague with dismissal if he or she does not consent to sexual acts.

  12. Consent obtained after putting pressure on the other person is not a valid consent.

  13. If the person is uncertain and uncomfortable, it is not consent! For example, the person looks very nervous, pushes the other person away and does not seem receptive.

  14. Silence is NOT consent! On the contrary, it can hide discomfort.

  15. Lack of resistance does not equal consent. If a person does not resist, it does not mean that he or she consents.

  16. Insisting on having sex is harassment and it's NO!

  17. Consent is not valid if it is obtained as a result of lies. Especially if it puts the victim at risk of serious harm or bodily injury. For example, if a person with HIV lies about his or her medical condition to obtain consent. And, in addition, there is a possible risk of transmission. That person could face legal action. And the consent may not be considered valid. It could also be the case of a person who says he or she used a condom, but it is not true. This would put his or her partner at risk of pregnancy.

**IMPORTANT! Performing a sexual act towards another person without their consent is NO! This can expose the perpetrator to a charge of sexual assault.

Without free, voluntary and informed consent, it is sexual assault

The special case of teenagers :

Au Canada, l’âge légal pour consentir à une activité sexuelle est de 16 ans. Cependant, il y a des exceptions pour les jeunes qui ont des relations sexuelles volontaires entre eux.

At age 12 or 13

If the youngest partner is 12 or 13 years old, there can be no more than a two-year difference between the partners. It would therefore be illegal for a 15 year old to have sex with a 12 year old.

At age 14 or 15

If the younger partner is 14 or 15 years old, the age difference between the partners is 5 years. The older partner must not be in a position of authority, trust or exploitation towards the younger partner. The younger partner should not be in a position of dependence on the older partner.

Legal proceedings

In order for a lawsuit to be filed, a complaint must first be filed. This is often done by the parents because they feel the relationship is inappropriate.

The importance of feeling free

It is important to feel free to participate in sexual activity or not. No one should ever agree to do things they don't want to do to please someone else. Nor for fear of losing the other person! The important thing is to respect your own limits.

Sexual assault is NEVER the fault of the person being assaulted. It's important to be able to talk about it.

If you need help, there are several resources like: Info-Aide Violence Sexuelle (1-888-933-9007), CALACS, Info-Social (811), SOS Violence Conjugale, Tel-Jeunes, Ligne Parents.

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