A Guide to Consent in Pakistan

As numerous amounts of sexual assault cases emerge, there is a dire need for everyone to be educated about consent. This article is all you need to read.

In light of the numerous recent reports of horrible cases of sexual assault, everyday harassment and rise of the Me Too Movement have required urgent action to be taken to educate and to bring consent to the forefront of public discussions.

There are conflicting interpretations and definitions of consent. To get everyone on the same page, consent, in any form, is a legal requirement. Sexually touching someone without a mutual agreement is considered as sexual assault- a criminal offence. Those in the state of intoxication or those who have consumed drugs in any form are not legible to give it.
Although it doesn’t have to be professional or verbal, it needs to be communicated by the individuals involved. Consent given at one particular instance does not mean consent does not have to be taken each time.

Some common cues signifying consent

  1. Both partners are of age (married; boys 18 years of age and girls, 16.
  2. Must be given without any coercion or fear involved.
  3. Partners are awake, in their senses and aware of the situation.
  4. Answers are inclusive of, but not limited to: “Yes”, “Go ahead”, “Absolutely”, “Of course”, “You can continue” etc.

Consent isn’t authentic when

  1. If the other individual is unconscious, half asleep or asleep.
  2. You assume consent if you are in a relationship with them.
  3. You use intimidation, coercion, threats or other forms of manipulation.
  4. If they show signs of not being comfortable, not interested or indecisive- “I am tired”, “Stop”, “Can we take a break”, “Maybe, I’m not sure right now”, “I’m not ready”- or nonverbal signs like pushing away.

Pakistani Law

A man is said to commit rape who has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions,
(i) against her will,
(ii) without her consent,
(iii) with her consent, when the consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt,
(iv) with her consent, when the man knows that he is not married to her and that the consent is given because she believes that the man is another person to whom she is or believes herself to be married; or
(v) With or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age.

Other risk factors include intoxication whether severe or mild. Intoxication hinders rational decision making. Wait for the intoxicated to become sober to avoid risks of sexual assault.


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