Coronation Street is to tackle the issue of non-consensual sex with a storyline involving the characters of Amy (Elle Mulvaney) and Aaron (James Craven) next month.
Viewers will see on an episode that airs Friday March 3 scenes in which Amy and Aaron get drunk and kiss after a row with girlfriend Summer (Harriet Bibby).
Moving into the bedroom, Amy starts to undress, before addmitting she feels sick. However, Aaron continues to kiss Amy who is unaware of what happens next as he makes the decision for her that they will have sex. It won’t be until the next day that a horrified Amy discovers how far things went the night before.
Amy struggles with her emotions after the event and that she wasn’t able to consent to sex and was raped. Aaron doesn’t think he has done anything wrong and tries to convince her that they both wanted it to happen.
With family and friends and then the police becoming involved, we see the different reactions and understandings of non consensual sexual activity as both teens battle with what happened that night.
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.
On working with the show, Monica Bhogal, Director of The Schools Consent Project said: “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. 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.”
Producer Iain MacLeod said: “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.”
Elle Mulvaney explains: “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. 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.”
Coronation Street has worked with the Schools Consent Project on this storyline and has collated some statistics:
⦁ 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
Coronation Street airs Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm on ITV1 and ITVX