Promoting Good Sexual Health
Many factors can adversely impact on people’s sexual health including poverty, unemployment, poor education, alcohol and substance misuse and social exclusion. Looking after your Sexual Health is important because it is an issue that can affect your Mental Health, your Physical Well-being, and your relationships with others.
Practicing safer sex will not only help reduce the risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but will also reduce the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.
Today, in contrast to even 15-20 years ago, there is much more media/social media discussion about sexuality which is frank, detailed and explicit. On occasions this can lead to misleading or distorted images of relationships and sexuality.
- Useful Website/Links
The Law on Sex in Northern Ireland
Consent to Sex
Consent is where a person ‘agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice’. This would not include occasions where a person has been subjected to threats of violence; are asleep; are intoxicated through alcohol or drugs; are exploited or coerced in any way.
It is an offence for a person to touch sexually another person without reasonable belief that they consented. Touching covers all physical contact, whether with a part of the body or anything else or through clothing.
A male commits rape if he intentionally penetrates with his penis the vagina, mouth or anus of another person, male or female, including wife or civil partner, without that person’s consent. This is the only sexual offence that can only be committed by a male.
However, while a female cannot be charged with the offence of ‘Rape’, as this is defined a penile penetration, she could be charged with another offence such as ‘assault by penetration’ or other serious sexual offences.
Age of Consent
The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 introduced a series of laws to protect children under 16 years of age from abuse and even more specific laws to protect children under 13.
The age of consent to any form of sexual activity in Northern Ireland between a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a woman and woman, is 16. Therefore any sexual activity with any child or young person under the age of 16, whether they consent or not, is a criminal offence.
Indecent or Abusive Images of Children
It is illegal:
- to take, permit to be taken, or to make any indecent photograph, or pseudo-photograph, of a child or young person under the age of 18 even if that image is of you
- to distribute, or show, to another such a photograph
- to have in your possession such a photograph
- to publish, or cause to be published, such a photograph
It is also an offence, for certain people who hold particular positions of trust or authority, to abuse that position by engaging in any form of sexual activity with a child or young person under the age of 18.
For more information on the law on sexual offending go to www.legislation.gov.uk
Reporting Sexual Violence and Abuse
If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of sexual violence or abuse, whether recently or in the past, or if you are the parent of a child this has happened to:
- report the matter directly to the police service on 101, the non emergency number, and you will be put in contact with a specially trained police officer who will speak to you confidentially, or in an emergency situation dial the police emergency number 999
- alternatively you may contact ‘The Rowan’ on free phone helpline 0800 399 4424, a specialist regional centre for victims of sexual violence that offer support and a range of medical services
If you want, The Rowan can also assist you in reporting the matter to the police service, if you have not already done so. For more information go to: www.therowan.net
Concerned by Your Behavior or Someone Else’s?
If you are concerned by your thoughts or behaviour, or the behaviour of someone else close to you, contact STOP IT NOW! UK & Ireland on telephone 0808 1000 900 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for confidential advice OR call the police on 101 – in an Emergency always call 999.
To download the leaflet click here.
The Condom Card Scheme
The Condom Card Scheme
If you’re aged between 16 and 25 years and live in Lisburn, Rural Lisburn, North Down & Ards or Down area you can get free condoms from us when you register with the C-Card scheme
Condoms can reduce the risk of catching or passing on sexually transmitted infections if they are used correctly. We can provide this from a venue based in Lisburn, Newtownards, Bangor or Downpatrick either for collection or we can send these out to you in the post.