Jerry Brown, Governor of California, has signed a bill to pass "yes means yes" law in a bid to reduce sex assault cases in college campuses.
Under the "yes means yes" law, students must give an "affirmative consent" before engaging in any sexual activity. The law will apply to public colleges as well as other institutions, which receives state funding for student support.
Sex-related crimes have been on the rise in the last few years on college campuses and reports suggest that one in every five college students are sexually assaulted during their time at college. The latest legislation describes consent as "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity."
The law also states that silence of an individual or absence of resistance does not mean consent. The law also states that alcohol and drugs do not excuse unsolicited sexual activity.
The new legislation is aimed to reduce sexual offences on U.S. college campuses and also highlights the requirement of sufficient training for faculty members who review sexual harassment cases. The law also requires a victim to have health services and counseling available to them.
"The conversation on sexual assault on our college campuses turned an important corner today from chatter to action," says state Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who sponsored the bill, SB 967. "Students at every California college campus will have basic protections to promote prevention, accountability and healing."
De Leon also stated that each and every student on a college campus deserves a health and safe learning environment. He also said that schools and colleges will not be allowed to overlook rape cases in California.
Sexual assault victims and their advocates have welcomed the law, which is expected to bring consistency in all college campuses and challenge the belief that victims of sexual assault must have battled attack to have lawful complaints. The new law will educate students in defining what is consent and what is not.
About 50 colleges as well as universities in the U.S. including the Occidental College, University of Southern California (USC) and University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) are under investigation by federal agencies for handling sexual assault cases on their campuses.