Applaud New “Yes Means Yes” Rape Investigation Guidelines

Target: Alison Saunders, England and Wales Director of Public Prosecutions

Goal: Applaud the establishment of new “yes means yes” guidelines for rape investigations.

Police officers in England and Wales will receive new guidelines regarding handling rape investigations, which will require them to establish consent instead of focus on proving that the survivor said “no” or actively resisted. This could be a major shift in how rape survivors are treated by law enforcement and how sexual violence is understood in general. Please join us in applauding these new guidelines, which will hopefully become standard all around the world.

One of the most common myths about rape is that as long as there isn’t active resistance, it is considered consensual. The truth is that silence or a lack of “no” do not mean “yes,” and consent cannot be assumed. Focusing on proving consent as opposed to proving coercion or resistance is much more fair and accurate, and can help ensure that rapists face consequences even if their victims froze or were not able to resist for whatever reason. Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, told The Telegraph “We want police and prosecutors to make sure they ask in every case where consent is the issue – how did the suspect know the complainant was saying yes and and doing so freely and knowingly?”

This is a big step forward in the fight against sexual violence and cultural myths around it. It will allow survivors to come forward and pursue legal action even if they did freeze while being assaulted, which is very common, and will make it easier to convict perpetrators. It is both an ideological and practical improvement, and we should push more countries to move in this direction. Join us in expressing our support for this decision by signing the petition below.


Dear Ms. Saunders,

I am writing to you about your recent decision to change law enforcement’s guidelines about handling sexual violence investigations. The new guidelines, which are focused on establishing consent instead of resistance, are a very necessary change to the current system. As you know, not all survivors are able to react and resist their attacker, but that does not mean that they have given their consent. I am very content to know that you understand this and are willing to act to protect survivors of sexual violence.

The belief that a lack of “no” means “yes” is unfortunately very common today, but regulations like this can help change that. I hope that your decision will influence other institutions and countries all around the world to ensure that sexual violence is handled correctly and fairly by police officers and prosecutors. I want to voice my support for the new guidelines you instituted and encourage you to keep working in this direction.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Women’s eNews via Flickr

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