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Letters to the Editor: We need to talk about consent

November 13th, 2021 3:10 PM

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EDITOR – I wish to express my concern about consent and the lack of issued sex education in post-primary schools.

Recently, I read an article regarding a survey by NUI Galway. Based on the views of 613  secondary school students aged between 15 and 17, 93 % of females and 79 % of males agreed that consent is always required for sexual activity.

However, 18% of boys surveyed were neutral as to whether consent is always required, with 3% disagreeing, versus 6% of females who were neutral, and 1% disagreeing.

The survey also found that 62% agreed that consent for sexual activity always needed to be verbal. There was a significant gender gap in personal comfort with being sexually intimate with someone they had just met at a party, with females less likely to be comfortable than males. While 7% of females were comfortable with intimate touching, 51% of males said they were comfortable.

The gender and percentage gaps are frightening. In a perfect world, we would like to think attitudes towards sexual harassment are changing but evidence shows us we have a long way to go.

We read books from authors like Sally Rooney where consent is cemented right through the novel before we are brought back to reality in today’s society.

This perception gap reveals an internalised social pressure felt by many to engage in actions they may not actually want to engage in.

Girls were more likely to reference a fear of disappointing their counterpart as a barrier to talking about consent, while boys were more inclined to point to a fear of rejection.

Gendered expectations are clued across the survey, meaning that boys are trying to initiate sexual activity and the girl is the ‘gatekeeper’.

I see this issue as a mandatory and compulsory programme that needs to be made part of the SPHE course from third year up.

Parents and teachers must get involved. Programmes like these will create a much safer and happier environment for young girls especially.

We need to reduce the stigma related to sexual harassment and consent and make it a general conversation. For example, a boy and a girl are both drunk. The girl isn’t standing straight and is near to unconsciousness, while the boy tries to engage in sexual activity. Our response: rape. Let’s flip the situation. The boy is where the girl was and the girl is where the boy was. Our response: we laugh or say the girl is being needy, but she won’t do anything because she is a girl. This is just an example of what needs to be taught and learned.

It will reduce sexual harassment, anxiey, rape, depression and will equip students with self confidence to speak up about something that they are not comfortable or happy with.

Lucy Collins,

Clonakilty.

COPD more common that you might think

EDITOR – COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which is perhaps more commonly known to readers as bronchitis or emphysema, affects approximately half a million people in this country.

Indeed, we know that between 2017 and 2019, there were 3,933 people from Cork hospitalised due to COPD.

The key symptoms are breathlessness and chronic cough. Smoking is the main cause but other risk factors include air pollution, inhaling dusts, chemicals or fumes, chronic asthma and family history.

People over 35 years with symptoms, or who have one of the risk factors, should talk to their GP about getting checked out and having a spirometry breathing test.

Ahead of World COPD Day later this month, on Saturday November 13th from 1-4pm, COPD Support Ireland will host a virtual conference for people with COPD, their families and carers.

Keynote speaker is Prof Martin Cormican who will give the latest update on Covid-19 vaccination and answer any questions that people may have – which can be submitted in advance to [email protected]

There will also be a number of health and well-being presentations on topics ranging from breathing techniques, to eating well for lung health, to exercise and staying fit.

With so many of our community now depending on technology to access virtual health services, we will hear about the latest developments in telehealth and remote care.

Of course, we know that many people can feel outside their comfort zone when it comes to technology and so we’ll also be offering practical advice on using devices to help ensure that no one gets left behind.

This event is completely free and registration is open at www.copd.ie. It would be great if some of your readers who are interested in this subject matter would join us on the day.

Joan Johnston,

Leopardstown Road,

Dublin 18.

GAA is the lifeblood of rural Ireland

EDITOR – For an elected representative to stand up in the assembly chamber and try to smear the GAA by levelling unfounded allegations against them is a total disgrace and is designed  to stir up sectarian tensions against the GAA club in Co Derry.

The GAA is the lifeblood of rural Ireland and is non-sectarian. It’s the setting for so many of life’s many major milestones and it serves as a central pillarfor so many of our communities.

So to use it as a means to score cheap political points is pathetic to say the least and smacks of desperation.

The GAA should call on the DUP to withdraw their unhelpfulcomments and apologise for the damage they have done to the Good Friday Agreement. Their toxic brand of politics has no place in a peaceful society.

Noel Harrington,

Kinsale.

Where is the bank holiday?

EDITOR – What happened all the talk of a new bank holiday? It seems this government is all tease and no action.

Mary J O’Connor.

Dublin 12.

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