Is This Rape? TV Show On Sexual Consent Sparks Twitter Outrage

A new show , “What Is Rape? Sex On Trial”, which aired on BBC Three yesterday, asked a group of 24 teens aged 16-18 years old to define sexual consent based on a drama with a sexual senario – with somewhat disturbing results. 

As part of BBC Three’s ‘Breaking The Mould’ season the documentary posed one important question: Did Gemma give consent? The show followed a group of teens and their reactions to a drama, documenting the rape of a girl named Gemma Selby, and had to decide whether a crime had been committed.

Gemma and Tom had been on a few dates, they’ve even fooled around before, and they’re mates with the same group of friends who are all at the same party. So when the lights go out Tom puts the moves on Gemma and, despite her never saying yes, Tom takes her silence as a green light.

When first asked, “Did Gemma give consent?” Only 54% of the group said No, with 33% unsure and a worrying 13% saying yes.

Even by the end of the show’s study there were still a portion of the group who remained unsure whether or not this was rape. Or as some of the group’s said, was it ‘full-rape’?

Is This Rape? Teens are shown a fictionalised drama and they have to decide whether or not it is rape….


“It was semi-rape” one teenage boy concluded, but what does that term even mean? For those involved in ‘Sex on Trial’ it seems the idea of a seven year jail sentence is still too harsh for taking away a persons sexual rights and assaulting their body, even if, like Gemma, that person didn’t so no.

The show has provoked a very strong reaction from many viewers, calling for better education on sexual consent. “People seem to have the view that rape is a violent attack. That’s not always the case,” one person tweeted.

And more reactions below:

“Semi-rape” don’t think that term exists, think you’re looking for the term ‘rape’ #isthisrape. 

“Just watched #isthisrape. Worrying that it took a lot of persuasion to realise that guy raped that girl. Should be taught in school.”

“Watching #sexontrial and its amazing how girls don’t recognise rape/sexual abuse as much as boys do. Wise up girls!”

And since the programme has aired, many viewers have called for better education in schools on sexual consent. Let us know what you think…

By Hayley Thompson