The south-west's leading sex assault police investigator has issued a challenge to men - when it comes to sex consent do one thing only - shut up.
Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Asenjo, who overseas the Warrnambool-based sex offences and child abuse investigation team, said it was imperative that men listened to women and girls about consent.
"The challenge is for men and boys to shut up, that's the challenge," he said.
"Consent is more than just saying 'yes' and it's a damn sight more than not saying 'no'.
"For a true understanding of consent men must shut up and listen to the experiences of their wives, sisters and daughters.
"Once there is no longer a level playing field between parties, then consent can become a live issue."
Detective Senior Sergeant Asenjo's comments come after a 16-year-old Warrnambool district male youth has been twice charged with sex offences.
The youth was released on summons and is then alleged to have offended again in a similar manner just weeks later.
The complainants are 13 and 14 year old girls.
"Warrnambool SOCIT members have investigated allegations that a 16-year-old youth was involved in the sexual penetration of a child aged under 16 years," he said.
"There are multiple complainants and investigators believe the surrounding circumstances in these separate incidents warrant the matter going to court.
"The investigation centres on some forms of coercion that allegedly led to the relationships involving these young people falling into the criminal space."
The police officer said the two-year age gap involving the accused and complainants could be a defence but would not stop an investigation or charges being laid.
"We don't want children going through the criminal justice system. In general terms police are reluctant to bring children before the court for offences of this nature
"But, the circumstances can be varied, it's determined on a case-by-case basis and it's believed these incidents should go before the court."
Detective Senior Sergeant Asenjo said that when aggravating circumstances surrounded incidents then the decision to prosecute was far more likely.
"Aggravating factors could include appropriation of intimate images and controlling behaviours including coercion," he said.
"There is a legal definition of consent which can often be played out in court in a complex manner. There are also moral and ethical elements as well and these should be the focus of conversations within our community, particularly with young people.
"Once there is not an even and true level playing field then consent is a real issue. We need to equip our kids to deal with this.
"Listening to the women and girls in our lives is a great way to start and I encourage these conversations to start early, so our kids have support in navigating these and other complex issues.
"I would love to hear from people in our community about this issue."
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