Police have launched a hard-hitting new DVD to highlight the devastating effects of rape.
The short film, entitled ‘Without consent it’s rape’ is aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25 and will be part of a new educational project to be rolled out across all the policing districts in Northern Ireland.
Earlier this month Northern Ireland’s first Sexual Assault Referral Centre was opened.
The Rowan, at Antrim Hospital, will provide a service every day of the year for men, woman and children who have been victims of or affected by sexual abuse.
Speaking about the new DVD PSNI Detective Superintendent Brian Hanna said the message they want to get through to people is that sex without consent is rape.
“Rape is devastating for the victim. The psychological effects can last a lifetime, with some victims never fully recovering from their ordeal. One of the dangers is alcohol reducing the ability to make the right decisions. This can leave people vulnerable to attack. Just because someone is not capable of saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean that you can have sex with them.
“Fresher’s week is now underway and we would urge people to be mindful about their personal safety and how much alcohol they drink and to act responsibly. Sex without consent is a crime that can lead to a criminal conviction as well as life changing implications for the victim and the accused,” said the police officer.
“While sexual assault can be an opportunistic crime it is often committed by someone known to the victim. We know that the majority of rapes occur in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning and often linked to a night out.”
The PSNI aims to show the video in a number of locations in the future and urged outlets or groups who may be interested in getting involved to contact them.
Policing Board Member and Vice Chair of the Board’s Partnership Committee Debbie Watters said the new campaign coincides with Freshers week at University this year.
“With Fresher’s week in full swing, we want to ensure that people are aware of their rights and responsibilities as the consequences could be life changing,” she said. “This short film carries a very clear message that without consent, sex is rape.
“There has been an increase in the reported incidents of sexual violence and whilst for some it may not be an easy conversation to have it is one that could prove very important the morning after.”
Paula Jack, Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Agency said the campaign reaches out to young people who find themselves at risk.
“This hard-hitting DVD will alert young people to the dangers of getting themselves into situations where they may be more vulnerable to sexual violence, particularly where alcohol is involved,” said Ms Jack “I am pleased that the Youth Justice Agency has contributed directly to the production of this DVD which we will use as part of a broader educational package with young people in our care.”