Consent: What it is and why it’s important
Consent is an agreement between people to engage or to do something.
When it comes to sex, be it mutual masturbation, oral sex, kissing, sexting, vaginal sex, anal sex, and other intimate contacts, it is important to everyone involved to give or receive consent.
Consent is clearly communicated and there should be no doubt at all.
Without consent, any sexual activity is against the law and can be harmful.
Only yes, means yes! Silence or lack of resistance does NOT equal consent. If consent isn't given then it's a NO. It's not okay to persist until you get a YES.
- Mutual: You both need to agree, every single time.
- Freely given: A choice you make without pressure, guilt, or threats.
- Informed: You understand what’s about to happen.
- Certain & Clear: It’s a YES, not a ‘maybe’ or ‘I think so’ or ‘I guess so’.
- Enthusiastic: You’re excited and WANT to do the sexual activity.
- Reversible: You can stop or change your mind at any time.
- Specific: Saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean yes to everything.
- Ongoing: You need it before and during the activity, as well as next time!
What should consent sounds like?
Consent sounds something like this:
- "That sounds great"
- "That feels awesome"
- "Let's do that more"
- "I'd like to..."
- "Would you please..."
- "I want to keep doing this"
- "I'm enjoying this"
What consent DOESN'T sound like
Consent doesn’t sound something like?
- "I'm not sure"
- "I don't want to"
- "I don't think I'm ready"
- "Can we slow things down"
- Pulling away or resisting
- Being silent or not responding
- Agreeing to go on a date
- Showing interest in you
How do I get consent?
Asking for consent doesn’t have to be awkward! If done right, it can be flirty and respectful.
Here are some ways you might ask if you’re in the heat of the moment:
- "Can I..?"
- "Do you want me to...?"
- "Want to try...?"
- "Can we...?"
- "Are you ready to...?"
- "Do you like this?"
- "Do you want to...?"
- "Is this ok?"
- "What do you want to do?"
- "Do you want to stop?"
- "Would you like to...?"
- "Are you happy to go further?"
- "How do you feel about it?"
- "How are you feeling?"
- "Do you want to slow down?"
- "Are you comfortable?"
What’s the age of consent?
In Kenya, the age of consent to any sexual activity is 18 years. Anyone below the age of 18 is considered a minor and cannot give consent.
You can’t give consent if you are:
- Under the legal age of consent
- Severely affected by drugs or alcohol
- In a vulnerable position for example the other person has power or trust over you
- Being forced or afraid that someone will use force
- Tricked into thinking the person is someone else
- Under the belief that you can't or have no right to say no
- Mistaken or tricked about what you're consenting to
- Asleep or passed out
- Semi-conscious or unconscious
- Afraid you or someone else will be harmed
- Made to feel too scared to say no
- Pressured, bullied, manipulated, or threatened
- Not able to understand what you're consenting to
- Prevented from leaving - locked in a room or car
Why is consent so important?
Practicing consent is important for safe, healthy, and fun sexual experiences.
Without consent, any sexual activity is sexual violence.
Without consent, any sexual activity is against the law and can be harmful
Remember: it’s against the law to have sex or continue sex without consent. So even if the other person seems into it, the only way to know if you have consent is to ask.