Consent apps and sexual violence prevention

Consent apps have been proposed by the NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller as a strategy for reducing sexual violence (March 17 2021). However:

Consent apps are useless, and indeed dangerous. They don’t address how: Consent can be forced or pressured. Capacity to consent can be undermined by alcohol or drugs. Gender power differentials mean women often ‘consent’ to sex they don’t want.

Consent is a process, not a moment or one-off agreement. Consent should be to each sexual activity, at every step, in sexual interaction. Consent apps don’t allow consent to be withdrawn. They don’t allow participants to change their minds, or consent to some activities but not others.

In short, consent apps are a distraction from the real work of preventing and reducing sexual violence. Doing this will require comprehensive, systematic primary prevention strategies. What does this look like? Our Watch’s Change the Story framework is a great place to start.