Queen's Policy Engagement

Law

Sexual Consent in Northern Ireland: The Social and Legal Dimensions

This is the first of two Queen's Policy Engagement Briefing Papers by Dr Eithne Dowds. In this paper, Dr Dowds looks at how consent, despite being a key concept in the law on sexual offences in Northern Ireland, is subject to different and competing interpretations.

Sexual Consent in Northern Ireland: The Social and Legal Dimensions

In Northern Ireland (NI) consent is a key concept in the law on sexual offences. Despite its centrality to determining the existence of a criminal offence, it is a concept that is subject to different and competing interpretations. This becomes even more complicated when the guilt or innocence of a defendant rests not only upon whether there was consent or not but whether the defendant’s belief in consent was reasonably held.

Drawing from a Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) funded project undertaken by Dr Dowds, which
included semi-structured interviews with individuals working in the sexual violence sector in NI, this paper situates NI’s approach to sexual consent within broader trends towards ‘affirmative models of consent’.

To read or download this Briefing Paper, please click here. 

 

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Dr Eithne Dowds is a lecturer in the School of Law at Queen's University Belfast. Her research intersects the areas of international criminal law, feminist legal theory, sexual offences and children born of sexual violence in conflict. Eithne is particularly interested in feminist strategies in international criminal law and the extent to which developments at the international criminal level might bear relevance to domestic law on sexual offences.

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