Recently, I had an interview with HandsOff Initiative—a non-governmental organization addressing the systemic problem of rape, sexual abuse, harassment, and assault. I’ll be sharing the interview points just for those who were unable to catch it on Twitter.
HandsOff: The idea of consent in relationships is alien to many. Why is this the case?
SO: Indeed it is. I think it’s this way because couples already have a belief in their heads and hearts that once you’re in a relationship with someone, your bodies now belong to each other, which is wrong. So, even when they’re not up for something sexually, they cannot say so.
HandsOff: Consent creates certain boundaries in relationships. When we begin to have a shift in attitudes that, our bodies belong to us and to us alone, can the existence of these boundaries ruin a relationship?
SO: If it's ruining a relationship then it is 100% for the best. Your body is yours and you have a right to do with it as you please. If your partner cannot see, understand and respect that, then please allow the relationship to be ruined. These boundaries MUST be respected.
HandsOff: We agree. Because if your partner puts their needs above the autonomy you have over your body, that raises all sorts of questions. How about marriages? Is there a grey area there?
SO: Partners that put their needs above your comfort and consent are the kinds you should not be with. Even in marriages, consent is COMPULSORY. Consent knows no age, religion, race, sex, commitment kind, etc. It is universal. There are absolutely no grey areas in consent, none.
HandsOff: People think it is impossible for a husband to rape his wife, and vice versa, how do we educate people about marital rape?
SO: It is very possible for a husband to rape his wife and vice versa. Sex should be consensual, no matter the relationship dynamics. These conversations need to be had in the ‘pre-marriage counseling sessions’ and in all schools honestly.
HandsOff: Hopefully we have more of these conversations in pre-marriage counseling classes and sessions. To round it up tonight, what is a common-sense approach that can be used to understand consent in relationships?
SO: Hopefully indeed! Well, the best way I’ll explain consent to anyone today is by using this tea video created by the British. I want to believe its as simple as it comes and is universal.
If you’ve ever had any grey areas, well, I hope this article clarifies it for you. Also, for more information on consent in Nigeria, please follow HandsOff on Twitter.