Dr Victoria Brooks, Senior Lecturer in Law, wrote an article for The Conversation about why the legal definition of consent is harmful to victims.
In the article, Dr Brooks discussed the legal definition of the word ‘consent’, and said: “This definition is integral to the main sexual offences such as rape and sexual assault. There must be a lack of consent by the complainant, and a lack of reasonable belief in consent by the offender.”
She added: “These seem like simple rules, but in fact they set the bar too low. They are central to why queer women, in particular, do not trust the legal process. Sexual experience is far more nuanced than these rules imply.”
She said that the problem with consent is that it is judged on basis of the terms “freedom” and “choice”, which are open to interpretation and assumption. She added that coercion is an example of an often missed restriction on freedom to consent.
Dr Brooks goes on to discuss those who make the law, and identifies gaps in the understanding of what constitutes “freedom” in the context of consent, which can effect court outcomes.