'There’s huge pressure': Cork sexual health campaigner says young women need to be empowered to say no 

'There’s huge pressure': Cork sexual health campaigner says young women need to be empowered to say no 

A recent report found that more than half of young people are confused about consent

The Director of Sexual Violence Centre Cork has described a recent report on young people and consent as scary. 

The report by the National Youth Council of Ireland found that more than half of young people are confused about consent, while almost one in four lack the confidence to communicate their feelings when it comes to sexual activity.

The report surveyed youth workers who work with young people and was released ahead of the launch of ‘Let’s talk about consent’ which aims to tackle some of the issues identified in the report.

Centre Director Mary Crilly said she is particularly concerned for young women who feel as if they cannot vocalise their feelings about sexual activity or are experiencing peer-pressure.

“I’d ask all the girls to trust themselves and if they don’t want to have sex with somebody, they don’t have to," she said. "There’s huge pressure I think that way … it’s their right to say at any stage ‘I don’t want this’.” 

Sexual Violence Cork Centre provides services to victims of sexual assault and after almost 40 years of working with victims, Ms Crilly is not surprised by the results, which she believes highlight on-going issues with victim-blaming and sexual violence.

“I’m not shocked. I keep getting disappointed. I think we are living in a society where victim-blaming is rampant,” she said.

"We really have to stop the perpetrators in their tracks by saying there’s zero-tolerance and if you do anything, you will be held to account- either by your peers or by court or by something. That’s where it has to change.

“We need to start treating sexual violence like any other crime. We wouldn’t treat burglary or murder like this.

“But with sexual crimes, it’s kind of just so hidden, so quiet. The victim is made to feel ashamed of it and that’s how it continues." 

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