NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller made the suggestion of a sexual consent app which has been met with significant controversy. The app’s intention was to record when sexual consent was given in order to reduce any inconsistency in sexual partners perspectives of a sexual encounter.
The Commissioner expressed this idea after it was revealed that sexual assault reports had risen by 10% in NSW last year.
Arguably the only use it could have is for an accused rapist to “prove” consent was given but ignores potential issues of the person being pressured into signing it or potentially withdrawing consent after they have put it into the app.
Andrea Simon, director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, has stated that the app would only further perpetrate misunderstandings of what rape and consent it.
“It is wholly inappropriate as it sends the message that a woman can’t withdraw her consent once she has given it, which is entirely untrue… These types of apps should be used to support women’s sense of obligation or blame if they change their mind… We should be encouraging men and boys to seek enthusiastic consent at every stage of sex, not just at the beginning.”
Commissioner Fuller is not bothered by the criticism for his app, claiming that any open discussion about consent being important was crucial to finding a solution.
“People are out there today criticising the app, and that’s okay. But nobody has come to me with the suggestion that it’s not a worth cause in need of addressing”.
There has long be a crisis in Australian culture around gender-based violence and sexual assault. The police are not to blame for this, they are not responsible for addressing the causes of this, rather just the effects.
Victoria has recently discussed a more comprehensive education program throughout all schools to bring awareness to the growing crisis and encouraging healthy and consensual sexual relationships.
Legislation, policing, and health policies should be standardised and be subject to reform to enable victims to report their assaults and enable police to fully prosecute those responsible whilst also maintaining the presumption of innocence of defendants and the intransigence of prosecutors.
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