In a society where sayings like ‘ladki ki naa mein bhi haan hoti hai,’ have been romanticized, thanks to the Hindi film industry. The concept of consent in relationships and while using dating apps has seldom received the attention it deserved. The individual’s understanding of consent has been influenced by gender roles prevalent in our society. However, things are evolving and consent is completely non-negotiable for the new-age daters. Interestingly, dating apps are initiating conversations around consent on their platforms. Tinder’s recent initiative ‘Let’s Talk Consent’ under its ‘Consent Campaign’ aims to start a conversation around consent, and help people understand what it means and how they exercise it while dating.
Let’s Talk Consent
“Our aim through ‘Let’s Talk Consent’ is to give young adults access to appropriate information and a safe space to have a healthy discourse on the subject. As the largest dating app foundationally built on consent, we intend to be a strong ally in promoting the need to have an open, honest and compassionate conversation,” says Aahana Dhar, Director of Communications, Tinder India.
Adults do not understand consent
According to a recent Tinder survey, more than 65 per cent of young adults in India don’t know how to give consent or ask for it or withdraw consent when dating someone. More than half do not know what to do if their consent is violated. When asked about situations when their consent was violated, only 1 out of 4 admitted to speaking to their date/partner about it and preferred turning to a friend and looking for resources online, illustrating the need for continuous dialogue on this subject.
“We want young adults to be empowered to express consent, ask for consent and recognise respectful boundaries,” Dhar adds.
How does Tinder handle defaulters
Wondering how Tinder deals with a complaint from a user? Dhar explains, “Tinder allows users to quickly report accounts. We want to ensure those who have had a bad experience can be heard. If a member contacts us to report any bad online or offline behaviour, our team carefully reviews the report and takes the necessary action to remove any inappropriate profile from our platform. We have worked with organizations like RAINN to make our reporting process more transparent and trauma-informed. It empowers survivors with an enhanced agency — whether it’s making a formal report immediately, unmatching and making a report later, or reaching out to Tinder’s network of support resources and local police.”
According to another survey, more than 6 in 10 young adults seek more resources and safe spaces (both physical and online) on consent to be more educated and aware in their settings. “The campaign starts with a short film, directed by Sonam Nair, which showcases the importance of enabling conversations on consent. This is followed by a first-of-its-kind ‘Consent and Safe Dating Curriculum’ in partnership with Yuvaa, to give young adults access to appropriate information and a safe space to have a healthy discourse on the subject.”
Sherry Parashar, a Delhi resident searching for love, shares her experience of finding a life partner through a dating app. She says, “Never in my life, I thought I’ll be able to find someone who will truly love me and accept me for me. I always needed a committed relationship and that became the sole reason why I had so many failed relationships. I just somehow felt that no one nowadays wants to commit and someday get married and start a family and that everyone just wants fun. That’s when I downloaded Tinder and met a couple of people. Deep down I accepted the fact that maybe nowadays no one wants to commit. However, a few months later, I found myself talking to a guy. He was simple, sweet, and supportive. But the issue was, he was working in Bikaner and I knew if I want to be with him, I have to be ready for a long-distance setup. We tried and somehow as time passed, we fell in love (we didn’t even meet till then) Later on he told me that he is serving in the army and that is why he is posted in Bikaner, making it difficult for him to get leaves. But soon enough we met and three months into this relationship he asked me to marry him. I was shocked and confused but beyond happy that someone wants to have the same thing in the future as I wanted. Fast forwarding to 2022, we are happily engaged and plan to get married in May. I can’t even describe how happy and beautiful these past two years have been. I have never felt so secure and safe in a relationship.”
Vedika Parekh, however, didn’t have the same experience but a bitter one. She narrates, I’ve met both truly fantastic and utterly insane individuals, but one of the learnings I have gathered is to always look out for that blue tick of a verified profile. Some time ago, I matched with someone and we had a great conversation. I liked the pictures he put on his profile but when we did our first video call, I realised that the person just did not look like his pictures. It was the same person, but you could tell he had posted really old pictures and he didn’t look like that anymore – and that made me feel cheated. Since then, I only look at verified profiles.”
Nayan Sharma, a 30-year-old woman from Mumbai shares her traumatic experience and says, “I met this person through a dating app and it all looked perfect. We met thrice and he was quite respectful initially, however, as time passed, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was looking for love and thought he was the one. However, for his being his girlfriend meant sex. He disappeared after getting what he wanted. It left me traumatized.”
Perception around consent
Dhar tells us, “Together with YouGov India, Tinder conducted a survey of 1,018 young adults (18-30 years) across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune to understand the current perceptions about consent. We found that more young adults today are aware of the need for consent to be discussed more openly and its importance in the dating space. Close to 7 in 10 believe that consent should be discussed more openly with partners and even taught formally in schools and colleges, and almost 65 per cent have taken steps to personally understand the concept of consent.”
She adds, “Almost 13 per cent also believe that dating apps should take charge of consent awareness. Almost half (47 per cent) of young adults want to primarily learn about how to give consent, with 40 per cent interested in learning about how to navigate consent while meeting someone online.”