Sussex Police are encouraging young peope to talk about sexual consent and rape.
Their online campaign aims to make it clear that sex without consent is rape – and that rape is absolutely the responsibility of the perpetrator.
The force is launching a series of five videos, the first going out on their social media channels today.
In the first one, viewers will meet Ben, Anna, Michael and Alex as they get ready for their night out in Sussex. The story of how the night unfolds for each character – and the decisions that are made about sexual consent – will be revealed in four more videos on each of the following four days.
The first scene-setting video, released today at 6pm, will be followed with three more at the same time on each of the three following evenings, Friday 20 to Sunday, January 22.
The fifth and final video will launch at midday on Monday, January 23.
In addition, a blog website will feature guest posts from partner organisations providing commentary on the videos to lead and respond to the public discussion, as well as interviews with the actors who took part in the production.
According to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Sussex, two thirds of sexual assault victims from July 2015 to June 2016 were aged between 18 and 34.
Detective Superintendent Jason Tingley, head of public protection at Sussex Police, said: “This campaign specifically aims to engage younger people. We want them to get online and start talking about the actions and decisions that lead to sexual consent, or to rape.
“Consent is about saying ‘yes’ to sex. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have verbal agreement every time you have sex for consent to be given. However, the law does not support often held views that saying ‘no’ is the only way of denying consent – if someone is unwilling, uncertain or unable to give their consent, even if they don’t say the word ‘no’, it is rape.
“We know that rape and sexual offences are under-reported crimes and we want victims to know that there is support available and their reports will be taken seriously and investigated.”
Fabia Bates, Director of Survivor’s Network, who have supported Sussex Police during the campaign’s development, said: “It’s really positive to see a campaign focusing on the perpetrator, unambiguously placing responsibility with them. I hope it encourages real engagement and the debate that we so desperately need if we are to address the myths that surround sexual violence.”
The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Commission has also supported the development of the campaign.
One of their representatives, Alex Young, who campaigns widely on issues of consent, said: “The time to stop the normalisation of sexual harassment and assault is now.
“It’s important that we support campaigns which seek to highlight issues of this nature and give people the right information in order to be able to make the right decisions and act respectfully towards themselves and others.
“Consent needs to be made an integral part of our thought process to ensure that everywhere, from night-outs to school and work, remain sexual harassment and assault free zones.”
Sussex Police is grateful to ‘Shooshh’ nightclub in Brighton, for hosting the filming for the videos. Shooshh’s manager Albie Saliba said “I want people to have a great experience when they come to my club and I fully support the campaign to help raise awareness that sex without consent is rape”.
To get involved in the debate, you can;
- watch the videos on Sussex Police Facebook and YouTube
For information and support relating to rape and sexual assault please visit www.sussex.police.uk/rasso
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