Do Malaysian men know what sexual consent means? Survey finds 65pc don’t

Think tank Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) said it found that over half of the 1,007 men living in the Klang Valley it surveyed were under the impression that body language is enough to indicate consent. — AFP pic
Think tank Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) said it found that over half of the 1,007 men living in the Klang Valley it surveyed were under the impression that body language is enough to indicate consent. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — The majority of men in this country appear to believe that a woman who flirts with them or invites them to her home has consented to having sex, unless she explicitly says “no”.

Think tank Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) said it found that over half of the 1,007 men living in the Klang Valley it surveyed were under the impression that body language is enough to indicate consent.

In a report about its findings released today, Cent-GPS said that 65 per cent of men did not know that sexual consent must be an explicit “yes”.

“We found that only around 35 per cent of men surveyed knew that consent meant a partner had to verbally say yes to sex. Disappointingly, the other 65 per cent of male respondents in the Klang Valley incorrectly defined consent as anything other than a verbal “yes” from the female partner,” it said.

Specifically, 30 per cent of the men claimed consent has been given if there was a “mutual agreement”, regardless of whether or not both parties specifically say “yes” to sex.

Another 13 per cent said consent for sex can be identified through “body language”, whether by displaying certain gestures or body movements like making eye contact, touching and kissing.

About 4 per cent men claimed consent is a given when the partner is their wife or girlfriend and does not object or explicitly say “no”.

Another 8.6 per cent interpreted consent to be based on unspecified factors like the mood, vibe, flirting, chemistry, availability of protection and a “general assumption” of non-coercion.

Another 6 per cent unambiguously said they did not know what is considered sexual consent.

Cent-GPS said the survey results are worrying.

The think tank noted that most Malaysian men do not understand the true meaning of consent, and concluded that there is a great need for more effective and in-depth sex education.

The group interviewed comprised Klang Valley residents aged between 18 and 30 years who spoke in English.

Cent-GPS said the interviewees hypothetically represents Malaysia’s urban class with the most comprehension and understanding in terms of consent, sex education and healthy relationships.

“We fear the results and misconceptions surrounding sex education may possibly be the same, or worse in other areas of Malaysia,” Cent-GPS said of the findings.

The government is planning to table a Sexual Harassment Bill this year, following a feasibility study and consultation with NGOs and survivors of sexual harassment.

The Cent-GPS survey results gives cause for concern in the wake of the uproar triggered by PKR senator and former admiral Mohd Imran Abd Hamid who yesterday proposed a law to “protect” men from being seduced into committing sex crimes, including incest, against women.

His suggestion got some support from senate deputy president Datuk Seri Abdul Halim Abdul Samad from Umno, who said it was a “good viewpoint”.

Imran reportedly told the Dewan Negara that the men who molest and rape were “seduced” by the woman’s dressing or way of speaking.

Today, he retracted his proposal and apologised for his remarks even as he insisted his intention was sincere.

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