Australian police boss suggests app to prove sexual consent

A senior Australian policeman suggested on Thursday a phone app be developed to document sexual consent in a bid to improve conviction rates in sex crime cases.
New South Wales state Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said dating apps have brought couples together and the same technology could also provide clarity on the question of consent.

Technology doesnt fix everything, but ... it plays such a big role in people meeting at the moment. Im just suggesting: is it part of the solution? Fuller said.

Fuller said the number of sexual assaults reported in Australias most populous state was increasing while a prosecution success rate of only 2 per cent stemming from those reports showed the system was failing.


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Consent cant be implied, Fuller wrote in News Corp newspapers. Consent must be active and ongoing throughout a sexual encounter.

Responses to the consent app suggestion have been largely negative or sceptical.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian congratulated Fuller on taking a leadership position on having the conversation about the sexual assault problem, but declined to share her opinion on the app.

Supplied
New South Wales state Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said dating apps have brought couples together and the same technology could also provide clarity on the question of consent.

Lesley-Anne Ey, a University of South Australia expert on harmful sexual behaviour involving children, said she didnt think the app would work.

I dont think theyre going to interrupt the romance to put details into an app, Ey told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Catharine Lumby, a Sydney University specialist in ethics and accountability, described the app as a quick-fix that misunderstood the circumstances of sexual assaults.

Fundamentally what we are now having a reckoning with is the fact that there is a very small minority of men in this society who are opportunists, who make the decision to sexually assault women, Lumby said.

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
A woman holds a protest sign calling for action against domestic violence in Hyde Park during the Sydney International Women's Day march on March 07, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

They dont care where, how or why they do it. They will take the opportunity, and Im sure they are more than capable of manipulating technology, Lumby said.

More than 100,000 women protested in rallies across Australia on Monday demanding justice while calling out misogyny and dangerous workplace cultures.

The public anger erupted after the Australian attorney general denied an allegation that he raped a 16-year-old girl 33 years ago, and a former government staffer alleged that she was raped two years ago by a colleague in a ministers Parliament House office.

Fuller said his suggestion could gain popularity in time.

To be honest with you, the app idea could be the worst idea I have in 2021, but the reality is in five years, perhaps it wont be, he said. If you think about dating 10 years ago, this concept of single people swiping left and right was a term that we didnt even know.

A consent app similar to Fullers proposal was launched in Denmark last month. But the app hasnt been widely adopted, with fewer than 5,000 downloads, according to mobile intelligence site Sensor Tower.

Where to get help for sexual violence


  • Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00, click link for local helplines.

  • Victim Support 0800 842 846, text 4334, webchat safetotalk.nz or email [email protected].

  • The Harbour Online support and information for people affected by sexual abuse.

  • Womens Refuge 0800 733 843 (females only)

  • Male Survivors Aotearoa Helplines across NZ, click to find out more (males only).

  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 111.

Need help? If you or someone you know is in a dangerous situation, click the Shielded icon at the bottom of this situs to contact Women's Refuge in a safe and anonymous way without it being traced in your browser history. If you're in our app, visit the mobile website here to access Shielded.


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