What is harmful sexual behaviour?

Harmful sexual behaviours can be defined as:

  • any unwanted sexual behaviour towards another person
  • anything sexual without consent
  • sexual violence can occur:
    • physically (e.g. rape and assault)
    • verbally (e.g. saying something of a sexual nature to another person without their consent)
    • visually (e.g. making another person watch porn without their consent)
    • online (e.g. sending another person sexual messages or images without their consent). 

Harmful sexual behaviours can include, but are not limited to:

  • sexual harassment 
  • sexual assault (including rape) 
  • incest 
  • bestiality 
  • any form of unwanted sexual advance 
  • request for sexual favours 
  • any other unwanted behaviour that is sexual in nature.

New Zealand Sexual Violence Laws

The 1961 crimes act defines sexual violation into two parts:

  1. Rape (penetration of the genitalia by a penis without consent)
  2. Unlawful sexual connection (includes the penetration of one person by another person by genitals, fingers or objects without consent).

Sexual violation (rape and unlawful sexual connection) are as serious as each other and if someone is charged and found guilty of either, they can have a penalty of a maximum of 20 years in prison. 

People can’t legally consent to sexual activity when:

  • they are stupefied (too drunk or too high/too intoxicated) 
  • they are unconscious or asleep 
  • they are under 16 years old 
  • they are forced, coerced, threatened, or pressured into sexual activity or into saying yes to sexual activity.