Coronation Street will tackle the issue of non-consensual sex in an upcoming storyline involving Amy Barlow (Elle Mulvaney) and Aaron Sandford (James Craven).
An episode of the ITV soap, which is set to air on March 3, will see Amy and Aaron share a drunken kiss, following a row with Summer (Harriet Bibby).
Things will then be taken to the bedroom, where Amy will begin to undress, before admitting that she feels sick and rolling away from him.
Despite this, Aaron continues to kiss her, before taking things a step further and making the decision to have sex with her.
Amy is completely unaware of what is happening, and will only discover how far things went the following day after waking up, horrified by what has happened.
Viewers will follow Amy’s journey as she struggles with her emotions, coming to the realisation that she couldn’t consent and was raped, despite Aaron trying to convince her that they both wanted it.
Friends, family and the police will soon become involved, as Coronation Street explores the different reactions people have to the events of that night, as well as the understanding of non-consensual sexual activity.
It is hoped the storyline will open up conversations between families and friends about the issues surrounding sexual activity amongst young people, including consent, awareness, respect and education.
Coronation Street researchers have worked alongside The Schools Consent Project, a charity established in early 2015 which sends legally trained volunteers into schools to deliver workshops on the legal definition of sexual consent and key sexual offences.
‘The Schools Consent Project firmly believes that learning about sexual consent laws allows young people to understand their rights and responsibilities and empowers young people by providing them with the skills, confidence and knowledge they need to make safe, respectful, healthy choices around sexual consent’, Monica Bhogal, Director of The Schools Consent Project, said.
‘We are delighted to have been consulted on this storyline which conveys important messages around the topic of sexual consent with care and sensitivity. Its inclusion in such a wide-reaching show emphasises the crucial need for consent conversations and the power of consent education.’
Show producer Iain MacLeod highlighted the importance of covering such an issue.
‘Since we started discussing this storyline, I have been struck by the number of people who have put their hands up to say they’ve had a similar experience to Amy.
‘This story will be hugely relatable and we hope it will prompt important discussions among our audience about issues around consent.
‘The narrative will also be an engrossing, long-running examination of how Amy and Aaron deal with what happened that night and will give actors Elle Mulvaney and James Craven the chance to showcase their considerable skills.’
Statistics from The Schools Consent Project
- 1 in 4 women in the UK and many children and men are victims of sex crimes (Rape Crisis)
- 1 in every 3 three women experience sexual violence during their lifetime. (World Health Organisation)
- 1 in 3 girls experience unwanted sexual attention in their school corridors (Ofsted)
- 80% of girls and 55% of boys said unwanted or inappropriate comments of a sexual nature were made a lot or sometimes to them or their peers (Ofsted)
- Nearly 90% of girls and 50% of boys said being sent unwanted sexually explicit pictures or videos happens a lot or sometimes to them or their peers (Ofsted)
- 92% of girls and 74% of boys said sexist name-calling happens a lot or sometimes to them or their peers (Ofsted)
- 91% of reported rapes never get charged
- 2% of reported rapes result in conviction
Actress Elle Mulvaney is taking on the responsibility of playing this story, something which she was nervous about, but recognises the importance of.
‘Initially when I was given the storyline I was quite anxious to take it on as it’s such an important issue and we wanted to get it right’, she said.
‘There are so many different viewpoints from the characters but for us it was important that when we portray that night it’s clear that while Amy doesn’t say the words she definitely doesn’t consent. That meant that we had to highlight her usual behaviour in the run up to the episode so that she didn’t act uncharacteristically, the characters were getting closer before the event but even though they were friends that doesn’t mean it’s ok for him to do what he wants, this shouldn’t be a grey area.
‘It’s huge to be a young actress on the show and to be given a storyline like this because it shows how much faith the team has in us, which in turn gives us the confidence to tackle the story.
‘It won’t end here either, it will be interesting to see the character develop in a different way because this will stay with Amy for a long time. It’s important to note the way it will affect her mental health and wellbeing going forward which is something else we want to highlight with this story.’
For further information and support, visit The Schools Consent Project website here.
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