Fourteen 5th years students from Kells, have started an amazing campaign to drive the discussion about consent in Ireland. The project started in September of 2015 as part of a Transition Year module, Young Social Innovators, which is a national competition giving young people the platform to create social change and raise awareness around topics they feel need highlighting.

The girls chose to do the project on rape culture and sexual consent, because, while many people are familiar with the term “rape”, fewer people are familiar with rape culture. Rape culture is all about the normalisation of rape and the trivialisation of things such as sexual assault and victim blaming. After carrying out their own research locally, the girls felt there was a huge need for more people to understand the meaning of consent. The project won 1st place in the “Making Our World More Fair and Just” category and placed in the top 6 projects in Ireland.

This year, now nearly 17 and 18, the girls have decided to continue the campaign and re-enter the YSI competition because of the support they constantly receive and their obvious passion for creating awareness. The girls tell us that although some people were sceptical at the start of the project because of the nature and sensitivity of the issue, they found it incredible that our class of fifteen and sixteen year olds were ready and comfortable to speak out about such an important topic. They’ve received tremendous support so far, and have been interviewed by Newstalk, Irish Independent, DailyEdge.ie and RTÉ News.

The message is simple: Sex without consent is rape. The mission is to show people that it is rape if you are drunk, it is rape if you are sober, it is rape if you are male, it is rape if you are female, and it is rape if you are in short skirt or suit and tie.
Campaign member Lauren Kiernan commented;
 “I’m committed to this campaign because I feel in this day and age, although we are so developed in so many ways, we are still backwards in other areas, such as in rape culture and with victim blaming. Rape culture is everywhere, and everyone contributes to it without even noticing. It could be a song on the radio, or a programme on TV. And victim blaming happens every day too, almost subconsciously, maybe even at your kitchen table, “Why was she stupid enough to walk alone at 2am, half dressed?”. I should be able to walk anywhere and not be raped, I should be able to dress as I like without being subjected to blameful comments. This campaign gave me an insight as to how little the world knows about these issues, even in 2017. I feel we have a long way to go, but if we can change one person’s mind, or give one person a greater understanding, it’s worth it all”
Salomé Riva added:
“I think it’s so important to open the conversation about consent and rape in our society. The importance of consent is a real issue no matter gender, age or sexuality, and it warms my heart to see us, a group of teenage girls, making a difference”
Its amazing to see young girls getting involved in creating change and standing up for what they believe in.
You can follow the campaign on twitter @yesnotthedress

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