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sexual consent

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Transition Year students are to be given classes on the importance of sexual consent under a new scheme aimed at challenging young people's preconceptions. 

The aim of the course, which will be taught over six two-hour classes, is to give students the knowledge and tools to be able to give informed consent. 

The sessions will allow students to get involved in the discussion through debates and exercises. 

The classes will also explore a number of ways to prevent sexual violence as well as possible ways to deal with challenging behaviour. 

The move had been welcomed by Children's Minister Katherine Zappone, who told The Irish Independent: "The #MeToo campaign made 2017 a watershed year in terms of raising awareness about sexual harassment, abuse and violence."

"However, raising awareness is not enough. We must also act," she said. 

"I will be encouraging Tusla, frontline services and our youth organisations to engage further to see if other ways can be found to reach more teenagers.

"It is my goal that the experiences we gain in the coming months will also be used to introduce this education into the mainstream syllabus, making it available to every young person in the country." 

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"Guys, a woman who’s dead drunk cannot consent. You are raping her.”

These were the words spoken by Joe Biden during a sexual assault awareness event at George Mason University, Virginia, on Wednesday.

The former US Vice President was speaking at the university for an event sponsored by It’s On Us, an organisation founded by Joe and Barack Obama to combat "the epidemic of sexual violence" on college campuses across the United States.

It’s On Us wants men to stand up and take an active approach in the prevention of sexual crimes on college campuses.

‘’I've been in a lot of locker rooms. I don't know where in locker rooms where it is acceptable to talk about, 'Man, I was out this weekend and boy, I got a piece of her, and I did this and I did that.'’’

‘’The guys who usually say that are usually the ugliest sons of bi— guns in the room,'' he added, to laughter and applause from the crowd. ''Here's the deal guys, you gotta speak up. You cannot let that kind of talk be bred on a college campus.’’

Joe also called out those men who don’t take action when they see a women who may be in trouble.

‘’When you see something, if you're a fraternity brother and you see a young freshman co-ed in the second week dead drunk, and him walking her up the stairs, you gotta go up to him and say, 'Hey, not in my house, Jack. Not in my house.'’’

‘’Because if you don't, you are an accomplice. You know what's about to happen. You know!’’

The former Vice President ended his powerful speech with a reminder for young men everywhere.

‘’I say to you guys, please, please act like men. Rape and sexual assault are not about sex, it’s about power. If you want to be a man, stand up, man’’

‘’And if you can't get her to say yes because she wants to, you ain't much.’’

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The UCD students' union has made the decision to cancel its sexual consent classes due to lack of interest.

Out of 30,000 students, only 20 took part in the classes which have been ongoing since February as part of the college's #NotAskingForIt campaign.

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According to the union's welfare officer, Róisín O'Mara, students didn't sign up for the segment because they felt they didn't need to be taught about consent.

“It’s a hot topic at the moment. Perhaps that is why people don’t want to be seen as needing to be told what consent is. The people who needed to go to classes wouldn’t have gone.

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“The people who were already engaging were the people who had a fair idea what consent was.”

So far, the classes have cost the union €1,800, however they would have €4,000 in total if they ran for the full term.

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Today, the issue of sexual consent will be brought before the Cabinet. 

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald will seek Cabinet approval to define sexual consent in Irish legislation for the first time ever. 

She will present a memo to this morning’s meeting outlining the inconsistency in Irish law and how she would address it.

The changes will include a definition that a person is incapable of consenting to a sexual act if they are asleep or unconscious.

This includes those who are unconscious due to intoxication, and those who are mistaken about the identity of the other person.

The changes to the law will also stress that a person cannot consent if they are being unlawfully detained, if they are unable to communicate due to a physical disability or if consent is offered through a third party.

A Department of Justice source told the Irish Times that the provisions would provide additional clarity for the legal system in sexual offences cases.

They would also serve “ as a clear reminder to those who would take advantage of persons who, in particular circumstances, are unable to consent.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, is due to be debated in the Dáil on February 1.

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