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“Yes Means Yes” Sexual Consent Law Passed for California Campuses

2 SEP 2014
Career Path : Education News

Judges Gavel

In an effort to bring a stop to what the White House has labelled a “rape epidemic” on college campuses, California has issued a new “Yes means yes” law. This law is in adjunction to the previous idea that the no in “no means no” is the signifier of unwanted sexual advances. Instead of just saying no, California law wants to implement an active “yes” as the signifier of sexual consent. This law is designed to lessen the grey zone in rape cases where it is unclear and cannot be proven whether consent was given or not.

While before, sexual consent could be issued in the form of physical approval (kissing etc.), the Yes means yes law will require consenters to verbally give their consent in the form of a yes. Critics are saying that although consent should obviously be mandatory, the duty for two people to constantly affirm with each other that what they are engaging in is not rape, is a mood killer and can stifle healthy sexual relationships. The issue of the government stepping into the sex lives of students is also a hot topic, which some say is an invasion of privacy and in fact criminalizes sexual acts.

In sexual assault cases, the bill will put responsibility on the accused to prove that he or she took reasonable measures to assure the victim had consented to the act. The issue with this law is how it will be implemented. There is no way for the accused to prove that consent was given, except perhaps in the form of a written agreement. This option is being critiqued as a romance-killer and a method of institutionalizing sex on campus.

Despite the critique, state-funded colleges have all agreed to accept the terms of the bill for their campuses. Rape has always been a topic of struggle for the legal system, because there is little way to prove its occurrence. Hopefully this law is just a step along the way to implementing infrastructures which will stop the widespread incidence of rape on North American campuses.

Source: Reuters