Realizing the exigency of generating discussions around the concept of consent at all social levels, Philia recently launched its pioneering campaign, Conversations on Consent, in alignment with Sivil Düşün, İstanbul&I, Warm+Fuzzy, Yabangee, and Conscious Creative Collective.
The much-anticipated event took place on 24th May 2021 and came to be hosted by Elisa L. Iannacone. Notable speakers at the event were our podcast hosts and experts Sarah Casper ( Consent Educator, Founder of Comprehensive Consent) and Müge Demirkır (Lawyer, Public Speaker, Human Rights Activist). Casper imparts consent education to adults as well as children. While Demirkır is an established researcher on gender equality.
People from different parts of the world attended the project launch to not only highlight the importance of conversations on consent but also make it a part of the mainstream discourse.
Conversations on Consent was created as we all believe consent is for everyone and it is a viable means of interaction. Unfortunately, discussions around consent are not witnessed in the current media trends and legislation surrounding sexual assault do not define the idea of consent
When we don’t have the law, we can’t change things. It is true that consent is difficult to define for multiple reasons and because of different backgrounds. This is why Philia intends to unify forces and take collective steps to advance the consent discourse. Only then we can envision harmonized societies that are equal and foster empathy by preventing violence.
The coercion-based prosecutions search for physical evidence especially in rape cases and they are not enough to fight against sexual assaults or sexual violence. The launch discussed the necessity of consent and the definition of consent in law thanks to the Istanbul Convention.
Questions asked during the launch:
To Sarah: What is the simplest way of implementing consent in our daily lives?
Sarah: Asking for consent and answering requires different skills. People are not used to being asked for consent so practice more on asking for consent to get more practice at it. You can also start with your closest friends to have more support. You can also set your boundaries and let people know how you can change your mind on certain things in your life. Setting boundaries is powerful.
To Müge: What does it feel like to try to move forward on conversations on consent with the law?
Müge: Having the law and implementing it are two different things. Going through the law and defending someone in court are difficult because of different expectations as consent is not always involved in the process. Sometimes, sexual violence could be used to humiliate people, even in court. How we create the perfect law is one thing but educating people who implement the law is the biggest problem in almost every country.
To Sarah: Do you feel that if law changes globally, it will also affect consent education?
Sarah: Laws could create a common culture or different laws on consent would be created by different cultures and these would affect everyone. When the law changes, people don’t change. Timing is important while setting roles.
To Sarah: How can we practice solidarity in terms of consent?
Sarah: A change in the culture is important. A man getting to greet people for getting laid is part of some cultures as they are in a social support group. Education is important to create safer relationships. If you don’t want to argue with others on consent, you can leave the room by finding an excuse as it is not possible to discuss consent with everyone. It is not your job as someone being pursued to seek consent, others should always ask. You can’t change other people’s perceptions easily without education.
Question from the audience: Does consent change according to cultures? Do you think there should be one definition of consent?
Müge: Consent is freely given, knowledgeable information. It changes according to culture, unfortunately. There is no specific definition, but we need to change that. Consent is accepting each other’s boundaries.
Sarah: there are different levels of consent, and everyone needs to practice it in lower levels like while hugging someone or tickling a friend. Don’t teach people, let them practice consent generally.
The official petition of the campaign aims to make consent mainstream. It went online five days prior to the launch. It gives the most comprehensive legal definition draft for law. Legal experts from different backgrounds worked on the petition to make consent global for all legal systems. You can sign the petition to support us. Sign the Petition