Life at sea may seem so far removed from life on land that it feels like normal rules do not apply.  However, the definitions of sexual harassment, assault and rape do not change just because you are far from home.  Definitions may vary from country to country, but under English law they are as follows:

Sex Discrimination – When you are treated unfairly because of your gender.  This could include being shouted at or humiliated, called sexist names, being bullied, being assigned different tasks or having training opportunities restricted compared to crew of a different gender. 

Sexual Harassment – unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which:

  • Violates your dignity
  • Makes you feel intimidated degraded or humiliated
  • Creates a hostile or offensive environment

This could include sexual comments, unwanted touching, unwelcome sexual advances, invasion of privacy such as accessing your cabin without permission, going through your laundry etc.

Sexual Assault – an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent.

Rape – when a person intentionally penetrates another’s vagina, anus or mouth with a penis, without the other person’s consent.

Assault by penetration – when a person penetrates another person’s vagina or anus with any part of the body other than a penis, or by using an object, without the person’s consent.

Consent – In law, sexual consent is when we agree by choice to a sexual activity and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. This means a person cannot give consent if they are scared, threatened, very drunk or under the influence of drugs, or asleep.

Consent may be given for one sexual activity but not for another.  Consent may be withdrawn if a person changes their mind or wishes the activity to stop.

If you freeze during an attack and are unable to speak, this does not mean you have given consent.

Useful information about consent can be found here

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