Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Legal Side of Sex By Hannah Davis

There are many important aspects to sex: the emotional side, physical dangers such as diseases, the possibility of pregnancy, your sexual orientation, fetishes, and legal issues. While legal information may not be what you like to talk about when discussing sex, its important to know what consent, confidentiality, and legality mean in regards to sex.

Sexual consent means that you are agreeing to engage in sexual activities or intercourse. Both people must be willing in order for it to be consensual. It's important to get consent because both partners should be able to feel comfortable and ready for what they are doing. This means that you should make sure EVERY time that your partner is willing. In a healthy, open, communication filled relationship it should be easy to ask your partner if they want to engage in these activities. If they say no then you must stop! If you don’t it can be considered sexual assault or rape. And yes, even when in a relationship there can be rape.

If a person has been using alcohol or drugs then they cannot give consent because they aren't in their right mind. It is not okay to get someone drunk in order to sleep with them. This too can be considered rape. And lastly, a person who is asleep or unconscious cannot give consent.

When it comes to confidentiality you have certain legal rights. If you talk to a doctor or go into a clinic to talk about sex you don't have to worry about them telling others what you have talked about. There are only certain times when confidentiality can be broken and that is if you are being physically or sexually abused, thinking about hurting yourself or others, are under 16 and having sex with someone 21 or older, or if you are under 14 having sex with someone older then 14. Other then those specific things, doctors and nurses cannot tell your parent or guardian anything unless you give permission for them to be contacted. California law states that people under 18 have confidentiality when they talk about sex (including testing for STI's, pregnancy, abortions, or birth control), mental health (including counseling, anxiety, depression, stress, or problems at home or school), and drugs and alcohol (including use and getting help). If you want to speak to someone about issues, you don't need to worry that confidentiality will be broken.

In regards to legality, you are a minor in California if you are under 18. Once you reach the age of 18 you are legally of age to engage in sexual activities as long as there is sexual consent. But even when you are legally of age there are still certain actions you cannot participate in. The Statutory Rape Law in California says that if you are over 18 and having sex with a minor it is illegal and rape. If you are over 21 and having sexual encounters with someone under the age of 16 then you could be guilty of a felony. And for those of you under 18, it is illegal for two minors to have sex in California. These are the three main laws to be on the lookout for. This information is meant to help you become aware of what is and isn't legal, as well as help you make careful decisions about sexual activity. Knowing about the legal consequences is important.

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