Understanding Consent

Woman in bed. Photo credit: Becky Whetherington
Woman in bed. Photo credit: Becky Whetherington

Magnus Meyer-Hustveit has been sentenced to 15 months in prison, for raping his former girlfriend Niamh Ní Dhomhnail while she slept. This verdict comes following an appeal in the courts by Ms Ní Dhomhnail after her rapist was originally given a 7 year suspended sentence in 2015. The Norweigan, who had pled guilty in 2015 to rape and sexual assault of Ms Ní Dhomhnail, had previously written to her, explaining how he had used her “body for my gratification” for nearly a year.

In an interview with Newstalk Breakfast on the 24th of March, Ms Ní Dhomhnail spoke on the need for her to waive her right to anonymity and its influence on the re-sentencing:

“I’m obviously unhappy that it took going public and it took a lot of people getting quite angry about it for that to happen”.

“I obviously still don’t feel that it’s representative of what has been taken away from me, and what continues to be taken away from me – but it’s something and it’s better than nothing”.

“Seeing other people’s outrage kind of validated that…what he did was wrong and it has hurt”.

“Part of recovery is that you know you have to keep going, no matter how difficult something is”.

On going public to speak out, Ms Ní Dhomhnaill says: “Obviously I’ve read some horrendous things that I’ve seen written about me…but I don’t take it personally and I never have done”.

“It was always very important to me that this be beneficial to the wider public – and if my case has highlighted a need to talk about consent and perhaps a need to talk about abusive relationships in sentencing – if I’ve helped and contributed to that in any way, then I’m very happy with that”.

“The past while has also taught me the power of love, and the power of trusting people”, she added.

I remember hearing about this case at the time of the original sentencing in 2015. I remember people discussing and debating it, and I remember a question which arose at the time of “Is it really rape if he was her boyfriend?” This ugly question seems to rear its head again and again when it comes to the topic of consent, and it baffles me that somehow people still seem to have a hard time getting their head around the subject. Fortunately, Blue Seat Studios, an animation and film company who “convey big concepts through humour” have created a video to explain consent through a medium we Irish understand the most: Tea.

Tea and Consent (Clean) from Blue Seat Studios on Vimeo.

Consent is never optional. It should never be viewed as a Mrs Doyle skit, where persistence is key in wearing down another persons resolve. It is not like tea, which we can all admit has at one time been forced on us by over bearing family members, and which the only real negative consequences of is a mug of weak and milky tea you have to choke down with a smile. Rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse ruins lives. The importance of consent is key in educating young men and women alike to being sexually responsible adults.

Want to find out more about consent? Check Spunout.ie or loveisrespect.org.

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