What is it?

Informed consent is the act of giving permission for someone to do something or for something to happen with a complete understanding of all the necessary outcomes or risks that might occur. This refers to various situations in your life, such as romantic relationships, family relationships, medical care, legal issues, and more. If someone acts in a certain way that the other person has given consent to could lead to legal implications or injuries (for medical consent). A consent is not valid if the giver isn’t informed about all the details and later suffers from the consequences.

Medical consent
  • Healthcare professionals are required to get consent before treating a patient. This could mean advising on treatment, benefits, risks, and alternative treatments to consider.  In some cases (surgery), documentation of consent is necessary.  However, in emergencies where the patient is unconscious or unable to understand consent and is in danger, the healthcare professional might perform the treatment or surgical procedures without consent.
Financial consent
  • This consists of inquiring about the cost of the service provided before paying. When someone is about to purchase or enter into a contract, s/he has a right to ask questions about the total payment amount required and any other fees or interest.
Relationships and consent
  • This is when someone permits intimacy, such as sexual intercourse, kissing, holding hands, and hugging. It’s important to get consent because it makes sure that the person you’re with is comfortable with you and happy. The only way you get consent is if the other person shows or tells you, but some may find it difficult to let you know they’re uncomfortable. They might not understand what to say exactly, so you can help them by asking questions such as if there is anything they don’t want to do, if they are happy & comfortable, if they’re going to stop, and if they’re going to go further. 

  • Another way of recognizing if your partner is comfortable or not is by their body language or non-verbal communication. You need to be able to look out for signs of comfort and uncomfort like pushing you away, tense body, arms crossed, pulling closer to you, actively touching or kissing you, laughing or excitement, and much more. If your partner isn’t comfortable, you should stop and talk to them about it. The key is to know the negative signs from the positive ones and if you are unsure, ask. 

  • There is no need to rush, so taking your time to ensure both you and your partners’ comfort is important. This creates a more satisfying and enjoyable relationship for both of you. You must discuss preferences, sexual interaction, and contraception. Both of you have a right to change your mind at any point if you deem fit, and saying NO is an absolute indication to stop whatever it is you’re doing. 

  • Mutual respect is essential in all aspects of life but especially in sexual situations. Boundaries with physical and sexual activity should be understood. It’s important to be open and honest.

Consent laws

If someone fails to get consent and performs any act regardless, s/he will be subjected to punishments for sexual assault. There are different legal punishments for sexual assault (can include nonsexual actions). After being charged, the person will have a court hearing and will be charged. The charges can include fines, penalties, prison time, and a restraining order. Sexual assault charges can stem from taking advantage while intoxicated, drugging without their knowledge, or any situation where the person isn’t willing and able to consent. The laws of consent are different from place to place, so make sure you understand what they are in the area you live in.