The prevalence of violence against women and this latest research ought to shock us out of our complacency. We simply cannot go on shutting our eyes and hoping the problem will solve itself. As well as tackling violence when it occurs, we must seek to prevent it happening in the first place. Compulsory sex and relationship education in schools is key to this.
If the government is really committed to giving teens the SRE that they deserve, then it should recognise that this aspect of sex and relationships - the pleasurable part - is just as important as the potential dangers. There is nothing wrong with young people wanting to watch porn, wanting to sext, and wanting to have sex.
The constant bombardment of messages that disapprove female sexuality and jubilate male sexuality creates confusion about what sex and sexuality really mean. As author of 'The Lolita Effect' M G Durham, wrote "I despise the social double standards that celebrate boys' 'studliness' and condemn girls' desires."
The relationship between sex and reproduction, and respect for one's body and for consent, cannot reasonably be considered contentious topics and therefore avoided. What is more, we're hearing from charities like TeenBoundaries, whose work strives to plug the current gaps in sex education, that a lack of basic information on sex is sending young people to pornography for the answers.
Recently the debate about the age of consent has flared up in the United Kingdom again. Is 16 the right age or does it do harm to children and adults alike? An argument that I haven't seen raised very often, but one that I have believed in for a long time points out that the age of consent is a much more complex issue.
I have become a bit evangelical around issues of sex and disability. When I started my career as a TV presenter and journalist in the early 1990s I convinced Channel 4 to commission a documentary on the subject called Willing and Able, which I think explored many of the issues that Enhance The UK are still trying to confront over twenty years later.
I was very interested at the range of responses and I was particularly pleased that a cross-party consensus emerged from the debate to keep the age of consent at 16. That reflects the broad consensus that exists in the country: the age of consent is a good indicator of the age at which we think people will be mature enough to enjoy and take responsibility for their sexual decisions.
Whilst I cannot condone the way in which your policies have in my opinion ostracised those young people whose talents fall outside the traditionally academic, I am actually writing to outline how our classes and other expertly delivered emotional education can and are assisting you in your agenda...
Having a period is an integral part of being a woman because it's intimately tied to our ability to reproduce. I have a cousin who didn't start her periods until she was 16 years old. Her mother thought she was 'damaged'. There is an awful inconvenience of having it happen but also the sense of relief that comes with having it (especially when you're waiting out a pregnancy scare).
As you would expect there is a very wide range of different views about pornography and its impact on attitudes and behaviour. The evidence is in fact pretty unclear. It is crystal clear however is the back drop against which young people develop an understanding of sex and sexuality is changing dramatically in the digital age and access to pornography is getting easier.
Sex is often an instigating element of relationships and the pressure from peers to engage is outstanding. The psychological damage caused by the influence of sexual relationships founded without understanding their emotional implications can be monumental and, more importantly, can alter a teenager's interpretation of a healthy relationship forever.
Being too embarrassed to come forward can be potentially very dangerous, particularly when it comes to sexual health. Public Health England* recently released its latest statistics on STI diagnoses rates, which were widely reported in the media. It illustrated that there is still a widespread problem of people having unsafe sex
Over the years I have worked with, and met, some amazing and inspirational women who have offered me insight into the control and power dynamics, inequalities and prejudices that perpetuate violence against women and girls. Of course, these variants will differ from country to country, culture to culture, but one variant remains constant - MEN.
Section 28 was homophobic, evil, pernicious and unworkable poor legislation - it was unworkable because it never applied to schools who were and continue to be responsible for sex education. But it had an enormous impact nonetheless. And those who introduced, supported and tried to uphold it should be ashamed.