More laws are not the answer: the case for restorative justice to address sexual assault
An app for consent? Women deserve better than ‘the worst idea I’ve had all year’
Experts savage top cop’s ‘damaging’ sexual consent app idea
NSW Police consent app proposal slammed by Chanel Contos
David Elliott will meet Chanel Contos
The Australian: CoitalSafe? What a classic Aussie brain fart
FROM 18 MARCH
Tele: OpEd by Mick Fuller: NSW Police Commissioner says society is able to keep women safe
If someone told me two years ago that we would have to sign in on our phones every time we sat down at a café or restaurant, I would have laughed at them.
The pandemic has shown us we can adapt our way of life to keep people safe and look after each other.
And so it is with sexual violence, particularly against women. We need to work together and make significant changes to make sure women can live their lives freely and safely.
Despite the best efforts of police, government and society, last year we received more than 15,000 reports of sexual assault. But men continue to get away with it — less than 2 per cent of reports lead to guilty verdicts in court.
We must move forward.
It’s 2021, not 1961.
There was a time when a woman wearing a short skirt would be crucified in the witness box as “asking for it”. Now some consider a woman impaired by alcohol or drugs has forfeited her right to be safe.
These attitudes endanger women. They can’t be accepted in our society. Not on the street, not in our homes and not in the courtroom.
Consent can’t be implied.
It is not given simply through the arrangement of a dinner through social media or a dating app.
Just because she came up to your apartment doesn’t mean she wants to have sex or be intimate. Women are entitled to go out and have fun.
To socialise. To catch a ride-share or walk home safely.
Technology and the advent of dating apps bring their own challenges. Some members of the community harshly judge those who use these apps.
If they end up on a jury in a sexual assault matter, prosecutions become even more difficult.
We need to continue to reshape the attitudes of men and the broader community too.
But that’s not enough.
Positive consent has to be part of the way forward. In whatever form that might take.
We need a discussion about innovative solutions and how we can gauge positive consent.
Consent must be active and ongoing throughout a sexual encounter.
Some members of the community judge those who use these apps harshly.
Just as we’ve had to check-in at the coffee shop to keep people safe, is there a way consent can be confirmed or documented?
People might think that sounds ridiculous but the idea we couldn’t dance at weddings, stand in a pub or cross a state border also sounded ridiculous until the cost of inaction was considered.
The fact is, the lives of tens of thousands of women are being damaged and destroyed every year.
I’m certain of one thing; we can’t continue to see only a tiny percentage of reported sexual assaults result in successful prosecution.
If a woman is brave enough to come forward, she deserves justice.
There has to be a better way.
SMH: Premier refuses to comment on top cop’s sexual consent app idea
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she will not be forced to comment on a proposal for a mobile phone app to record sexual consent because it was not a conversation that could be solved in 24 hours.
Ms Berejiklian said she had not had time to digest the proposal from Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Thursday to use an app to record consent between two partners, but commended him for “taking a leadership position in having the conversation.”
“I’m sick of this issue coming up every time there’s a headline. If you’re serious about making change, you have to do it properly,” she said.
“I’m not going to be forced to just say things one way or the other. What I will do is make sure, if you’re serious about change, to do it properly and I’m committed to the process.”
Ms Berejiklian added: “I’m sorry. If you think consent is a conversation that’s going to last 24 hours, you’re mistaken.”
Mr Fuller on Thursday floated the idea of the app, which he envisages being run by a private company, not the government – although he concedes the concept might never come to fruition.
“Intimate violence against particularly women is on the increase and it is increasing every year … and consent is a common theme,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.
“The app could be a terrible idea, but maybe in 10 years’ time that will be seen as the normal dating [method]. If you swipe left and right and there’s another option if you want to have intimacy.Advertisementhttps://cca1c9503a5f8888f266ce9f2a8f6e7f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“I hope that we don’t need to get to that point. I hope that we start the conversation at home and we start the conversation in schools about respectful behaviour.”
Mr Fuller said he hopes any potential app reduces instances of sexual assault by providing clarity around consent.https://omny.fm/shows/ben-fordham-full-show/top-cop-suggests-use-of-app-to-give-sexual-consent/embed?background=f4f5f7&description=1&download=1&foreground=0a1633&highlight=096dd2&image=1&share=1&style=artwork&subscribe=1
“The justice system doesn’t seem to be helping the offenders in these matters or the victims. If you have a 2 per cent success rate of the prosecutions that are only 10 per cent of the [reported] matters, then we’re failing both ways,” he said.
“I’m hoping that technology – whether it’s an app, whether it’s something else – will save matters going into the justice system because there is clarity that this is just dinner and this is just a date.”
Ms Berejiklian said she expected the government to receive multiple suggestions on the best way to move forward, flagging the upcoming findings from Attorney-General Mark Speakman’s review of consent laws.
“He will be putting something to us very shortly as a government,” she said.
Chief executive of Women’s Safety NSW Hayley Foster welcomed the Commissioner’s support for an affirmative model of consent, but said she was concerned at his position on diverting sexual assault matters out of the criminal justice system.
“We know it’s not working well, so let’s make the reforms needed to fix it, not simply tell victims there’s no point coming forward to report it,” she said.
Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie told Sky News Australia she was supportive of teaching children about consent from an early age but she was not sure about the practicalities of a consent app.
Senator Lambie said she supported any ideas to deal with violence against women but questioned whether using an app was realistic “if you’re spewing into a bucket … or if you can hardly speak or stand up”.
Mr Fuller said community expectations have changed and domestic and family violence was “not a private matter anymore”.
“Even if the app doesn’t go forward from this day, we need to start the conversation around consent and get a better understanding for the next generation of people who are dating,” he said.
“If we do nothing, then the 15,000 victims that came forward the last 12 months … next year [there’ll] be more and there’ll be more the year after and this will continue to grow as a terrible crime that damages people on both sides of the relationship.”
Tele: NSW Police Commissioner praised for ‘leadership’ on consent discussion
Mick Fuller’s consent app idea has been widely panned but the Premier has praised the state’s top cop for “taking a leadership position.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she did not want to give an opinion on the concept of a consent app and said she wanted time to digest the idea.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian commended NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller for “taking a leadership position” in a public conversation on consent.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph Comm Fuller floated the idea of a check-in style app for couples to consent to sexual activity.
The idea was panned by young women and legal experts who argued that consent could change quickly, even “second by second”.
Ms Berejiklian said she did not want to give an opinion on the concept of a consent app and said she wanted time to digest the idea.
“I’m very pleased the conversation is being had,” she said.
“Can I commend the police commissioner who for many years before he was the police commissioner did many things to advance how sexual assault victims were treated,” Ms Berejiklian said.
She said Attorney General Mark Speakman would “very shortly” put proposals around consent to the government.
“These are the conversations we need to have. I respect that the police commissioner is taking a leadership position to have the conversation,” she said.Results
Pressed by reporters to give her opinion on the idea of the app, she said: “If you think consent is a conversation that’s going to last 24 hours you’re mistaken. If you’re serious about looking at these issues give people the opportunity to absorb and digest what is being put forward.”
Tele: ‘Why top cop’s sex consent app plan wouldn’t work’
The state’s top cop has proposed using technology such as an app to record consent for sexual activity in order to combat rising sex assaults as he declared consent can “no longer be implied”.
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said police were grappling with rising sexual assault figures and low conviction rates, saying Australia needed to modernise its attitudes on the importance of actively agreeing to sexual activity.
Mr Fuller’s intervention comes as the NSW government faces calls to reform laws to require active consent, and calls to include consent education at schools.How the app might work
■ Enter name
■ Declare you are of legal age
■ Declare you understand sexual consent
■ Send request
■ Swipe to accept
■ The app encrypts and stores the digital agreement to be used later if needed
“The conversation around sex and consent seems to be anchored to the ‘50s and clearly it isn’t working,” Mr Fuller said.
Noting that other countries have a “positive consent approach”, Mr Fuller revealed he had been closely considering the role of technology in recording consent.
The idea behind consent apps is they normalise conversations around consent and formalise the habit of actively seeking it.
“There is no implied consent. It needs to be positive consent. How do we do that in this day and age? One option is with technology,” Mr Fuller said.
“You can’t walk into a shop at the moment without scanning in. Two years ago I would have said ‘you’re mad, I’m not doing that’.
“Do we protect people dating by having a positive affirmation … in an app?
“People say ‘how unromantic is that’. But think of how many people are looking for friendship and love online — it’s not as though technology and dating are foreign to us.
He conceded an app could provide challenges such as if someone withdrew consent after agreeing.
“I know there are challenges. But this would be a good starting point,” he said.
Such an app has been launched in Denmark, after the legal definition of rape was expanded to include sex without explicit consent.
Legal experts take issue with the idea of an app as admissible evidence of consent.
“It would be highly problematic and difficult to admit into evidence,” Greg Barns, national criminal justice spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance said.
In the year to June 2019, police received 14,171 reports of alleged sexual assaults. Just 1099 progressed to finalised charges and of those only 376 recorded guilty verdicts.
Mr Fuller said the statistics exposed “just how poor the outcome is for victims”. He said victims wanted accountability.
Mr Fuller said often perpetrators are friends or acquaintances and juries struggle with these convictions. He said attitudes that blame a woman affected by drugs or alcohol for consent problems were harmful and wrong.
“There is no social contract that inviting someone into your home is an invitation for sex,” Mr Fuller said.
“When someone, often a young woman, comes forward, police have to explain to them the journey ahead to conviction. It’s a bloody tough one.
“Sometimes police are accused of talking victims out of it but the victims need to know they may have barristers yelling at them, there’ll be people calling them liars in the box.
“Juries are struggling to come to terms with consent and we’ve seen high-profile matters before the courts with hung juries where they were reputable, decent witnesses.”
NSW Police Minister David Elliott said: “I am heartened that there is a debate on consent and pleased the NSW Police will take a lead role.”
He said he had “serious and daily” discussions at home as the father of two teenage boys.
“The first call from me, as the NSW Police Minister but also as a father, is that parents have to teach their children respect for women. But I also say to the community, it is everybody’s responsibility to educate our young men.”
NSW Labor upper house MP Rose Jackson said “the positive engagement from NSW Police on what is clearly an issue of real concern for young people, particularly young women, is fantastic”.
“The issue of how difficult it is to secure convictions through courts is a major one,” she said.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman is considering recommendations from the Law Reform Commission on consent law.
YOUNG WOMEN UNSURE ABOUT APP IDEA
It’s the generation who grew up living their lives online from dating apps to food delivery.
But technology is not always the answer, young women said yesterday in response to the idea that a mobile phone app could be used to digitally record sexual consent.
University of Sydney student Kate Pickard, 21, said any sort of app documenting an agreement prior to sex could never take into account that women were free to change their minds at any time.
“Consent can change, second to second, minute to minute. Just because you agreed to something doesn’t mean you cannot change your mind,” she said.
“It would cause a bit of an issue if someone can pull out a document and say you consented when you changed your mind at some point.”
For fellow student Lauren McGrath-Wild, 20, better education in schools seemed like the best thing to tackling the issue of consent — and done as early as primary school instead of waiting to university when many students must complete an online module.
“I came to university and learnt about consent and for a lot of women that is the first time they think that something might have happened to them when they were younger which wasn’t right,” she said.
Ms McGrath-Wild also said documenting consent seemed to serve the purpose of protecting men from allegations of rape rather than keeping women safe.
“It seems like it could be used as a way of excusing male behaviour which is unacceptable,” she said.
Sophie Bell, 20, also dismissed the idea of an app.
“With social media, parents don’t really know what is going on in their child’s life. The focus needs to be on education not just for a young person, but for the family as well to shift attitudes because some men have a superiority complex and they can do anything they want,” she said.
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