Students, hospitality back police campaign over consensual sex

10:43 am on 18 November 2022
Cheerful friends in the pub. Drinking beer, talking, having fun. Meeting friends after work

The campaign encouraging people to be certain consent has been given for sex will also be launched in Auckland. File photo Photo: 123RF

As the summer party season kicks off, Wellington police are reminding young people about the importance of consent to prevent sexual harm.

The Don't Guess the Yes campaign has been running since 2018, targeted at young men and focused on consent when partying and alcohol are involved.

It is also being rolled out in Auckland next week.

Unwanted advances are part and parcel of central Wellington nightlife, said Kara Glasgow Keene from the Massey University Students' Association.

"I can speak from personal experience; I've gone out to town multiple times and it's like, you go out on to the dancefloor and get your arse grabbed, it's just such a common occurrence," Glasgow Keene said.

There was a lot of work to do to keep people safe while they partied, which was why the association joined forces with police, the hospitality industry and others to bring back the Don't Guess the Yes campaign.

"It's just such a shame and it really ruins your night and I just think it's really important to be having these conversations about sexual harm and consent, especially around alcohol."

Don't Guess the Yes encourages people to be certain they had consent for any sexual activity.

It also educates hospitality workers about what to do when they see bad behaviour unfolding while they work.

Bar owner Matt McLaughlin said staff could help stop sexual harm by calling it out and helping those in trouble.

"Don't Guess the Yes is vital, it's vital to our industry," he said.

"We want to make our premises safe, we want to make the city safe, we've got a part to play.

"Often we get looked at as a big part of the problem with alcohol consumption and sexual consent.

"We want to be part of the solution."

The conversation about consent also encouraged survivors of sexual harm to report it, said Detective Sergeant Jacqui Rodger who heads up the campaign for Wellington police.

While she could not give concrete numbers about the campaign's success in recent years, Rodger said they don't need to be big, to make a difference.

"If one person from this campaign came forward and said 'hey, I've been harmed, I need help', to me, that's a success."

Police said the campaign has done so well in the capital that it would also launch in Auckland next week.

Following that, Rodger said the ultimate goal was to roll out Don't Guess the Yes to bars, clubs and events across Aotearoa.

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