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ISSUE 115 VOL 21 PUBLISHED 5/10/2002

Sexual assault a major concern

By Mary Schmidt
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 10, 2002

If someone didn’t scream no is that consent? If a person previously gave consent does that mean that they automatically gives consent for all future sexual acts? The answer to all of these questions is no. The Minnesota Statute 609.341 defines three key points in this issue. The first: Consent. According to the statute, consent is “words or overt actions by a person indicating a freely given present agreement to perform a particular sexual act with the actor. Consent does not mean the existence of a prior or current social relationship between the actor and the complainant or that the complainant failed to resist a particular sexual act.” Translation: SILENCE DOES NOT EQUAL CONSENT! Just because someone has consented to sex in the past does not mean they consent to everything in the future. Consent needs to be given every time you have sex with someone! The statute also states “A person who is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless as defined by this section cannot consent to a sexual act.” Translation: When someone is drunk or unconscious or has been drugged he/she cannot legally say yes to sex. When there is no consent sex is rape. Corroboration of the victim’s testimony is not required to show lack of consent. Translation: In a court of law the survivor does not have to testify to show there was no consent. I write this because I am concerned. I have heard way too many times from people on this campus that a victim of rape is partly responsible for the assault. He/she was drunk, he/she led him/her on, whatever the reason it doesn’t matter. No one is ever responsible for someone else’s actions. We can start to change things. When we start having children we can teach our little boys and girls that violence is never the answer and that hurting someone using sex is wrong. Our culture accepts sexual violence and if we want things to change we need to teach each other that it’s wrong and hurtful. So when you hear your friend make a sexist joke or encourage you to negotiate past the ‘no,’ tell them that it is not okay. We need to adopt a zero tolerance policy against sexual violence, and things will start to change. Silence never equals consent, and rape is a felony.

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