On World Sexual Health Day (4 September), the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates every person’s right to sexual well-being.
This year’s theme is consent.
WHO says: “Consent is a crucial element of any healthy sexual encounter, and we must educate ourselves and others on what it means, how to express it, and how to obtain it.
“In addition, it is essential to respect and value everyone’s autonomy and choices in sexual matters, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or any other factor.”
Dr Claire Tanner, Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies and Sociology, Monash University says: “‘Consent’ is a critical element of, not just legal, but positive and empowering, sexual encounters.
“What consent looks like, how it can be communicated and recognised, is not necessarily straightforward given the messy realities of sexual intimacies and exchanges, which are also shaped by powerful gendered norms and expectations.
“This highlights how critical conversations about consent are – not just in the bedrooms of intimate partners, but in courtrooms, the offices of policymakers, and in schools where ideas about what consent is and looks like are made and re-made.
“What comes of these conversations has grave implications, not least for the more than one in five women who currently experience sexual violence in our society.
“Increasingly, key spaces where messages about sex, bodies and consent are being circulated are on social media, where different platforms are enabling informal forms of sex education to take place.”