Crime & Justice

Sexual consent app idea causes controversy in Australia

Sydney, Australia, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The proposal of a police commissioner to create a mobile application that records sexual consent has stirred controversy in Australia, where academics and civic groups say the idea is naive.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller this week proposed an app where people could register their mutual agreement to have sex, which could be used to combat an increase in reports of sexual assault.

“Intimate violence particularly against women is a real problem crime for us at the moment and we need to find a solution,” Fuller told national broadcaster ABC on Thursday, admitting that it could be “the worst idea I have all year,” but that it could open the debate on sexual consent.

“Whether the app floats or not, I think it’s irrelevant… I think it’s about understanding that this crime is on the increase … and we need to confront it whether that’s through technology or education and training or through other ideas,” Fuller said.

Nearly 15,000 sexual assault complaints were filed in NSW in 2020, up 10 percent, with only 2 percent leading to guilty verdicts in court.

However, civic society, academic and political groups have expressed their rejection of the idea.

Hayley Foster, CEO of Women’s Safety NSW, tweeted: “An app to confirm sexual consent? It’s good @nswpolice is acknowledging the need for affirmative consent, but this isn’t a safe way forward. The abuser can simply coerce the victim to use the app.”

Green Party spokesperson for women’s rights, Jenny Leong, also rejected the idea, saying that Crimes Act reform, holistic consent education and justice for victim-survivors was needed instead.

“Consent is not something that can be accurately captured through a tick box or one-time check in. The only thing this would potentially do is provide yet another way for perpetrators to pressure women into providing them cover for their assault,” she said in a statement Thursday.

Professor Catherine Lumby, from the University of Sydney, told ABC the idea was “naive” saying opportunists “don’t care where, how and why they do it” and that they could manipulate the technology.

Other women pointed out that the nuances of power and human behavior couldn’t be accounted for in an app, and asked how it would work if the woman changed her mind.

Denmark launched a mobile app called iConsent earlier this year similar to the proposal put forward by the Australian police.

Last Monday, thousands of Australians from across the country took to the streets to demonstrate against gender inequality and criticize the government for its management in the face of several recent complaints of sexual assault in the spheres of Parliament. EFE-EPA


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