Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has been active in promoting a wider understanding of consent for many years. It does this via:

  • policy and research
  • training courses for educators/youth workers and for young people
  • talks and outreach in schools and colleges
  • campaigns and advocacy work

Our latest campaign, #100consent, focuses on the need for people to be completely consenting to any sexual activity – if you are not sure about yourself or the other person, then you shouldn’t proceed. As the campaign says, if you’re not 100%, it’s not consent. You can read more on the #100consent campaign page.Below is some information about consent compiled by DRCC which you might find useful, including some downloadable images and documents.

There is also info on our programmes for young people, such as our Bodyright course for those working with young people which focuses on understanding consent as well as sexual violence and how to support young people affected by it. For more information on training & resources on consent, contact youthprogrammes@rcc.ie.

What is Consent?

Consent is about feeling in control and saying yes or no, doing or not doing things because you choose to, not because someone is  pressuring you.

When it comes to sexual activity, consent is the voluntary agreement in a relationship with equal power to engage in sexual activity.

This agreement can be verbal or non-verbal, but should be given freely by individuals capable of consenting. This means you should be over the legal age of consent and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and not asleep or unconscious.

Consent should never be assumed – it should be a clear, ongoing & continuous process in every new or repeated sexual encounter.

What’s important to know about consent?

Irish law says that a person ‘consents to a sexual act if he or she freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act’. According to Irish law, the legal age for consenting to sexual acts is 17.

This means that it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with anyone under 17 and for a person in a position of authority, it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with anyone under 18.

The law acknowledges that young people may be engaging in sexual activity with each other and has included a ‘proximity of age’ defence in the 2017 Sexual Offences Act.  This means that if a person has been charged with an offence of engaging in a sexual act with a person between the ages of 15 and 17 years, he or she can put forward a defence, but only if all of these conditions apply:

  • the age difference between the two people is not more than two years,
  • agreement was given freely and voluntarily,
  • neither party was exploited or intimidated, and
  • neither person was in a position of authority.

Creating and sharing intimate images or videos of someone under the age of 18, with or without consent, may be considered as the online sharing of child abuse imagery, known in the legislation as child pornography and may be illegal.

Communicating consent

Many people worry that talking about consent will be awkward or a mood-killer, but this is not the case. Communication is a healthy part of a sexual relationship.  If anything, the mood is much more positive when everyone can freely communicate what they want or don’t want. Here are some ways to check for consent:

Giving and getting consent before taking part in any type of sexual activity means that you know what is being agreed to and everyone can enjoy what they feel comfortable with.

Consent is an important part of healthy relationships. In a healthy relationship there is a responsibility to look after each other, and make sure the people who we are with are happy, safe, and giving their consent.

In healthy relationships

  • People feel safe, equal, respected and happy
  • People don’t put pressure on anyone else & it’s easy to say ‘no’ as well as ‘yes’
  • People don’t do things that make others feel uncomfortable or anxious

Signs of a healthy relationship 

  • good communication
  • mutual respect
  • trust
  • honesty
  • equality
  • being yourself

DRCC Consent Resources:

If you have experienced rape or sexual assault,  and need confidential, non-judgemental support, please call the National 24-hour Helpline on 1800 77 88 88  and find information on www.drcc.ie

(c) DRCC March 2020