"Yes means yes" law aims to reduce sexual assaults when "no" isn't enough

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A presidential task force found that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during college.

The government is investigating how dozens of schools handle sexual assault complaints.

Now, the California legislature has sent the governor the first law of its kind designed to reduce assaults.

It's called the "yes means yes" law.

University of California, Los Angeles senior Savanah Badalich is an advocate for the proposed law. She says she learned "no" is not enough when she was raped by a fellow student.

"I had said 'no' numerous times. But after a while, I just stopped saying anything at all," said Badalich. "I don't think had I said no nine times versus the eight times that I did, it would have made a difference, so I just stopped talking. And that could technically be used against me without this affirmative consent bill."

The California bill is unique because it requires "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement" before students have sex. The legislation also says a "lack of resistance or silence cannot be interpreted as a yes."


UCLA senior Savanah Badalich CBS

Ultimately, whether it's "yes means yes" or "no means no," it's still going to be a he said-she said. Badalich said that's always going to be a concern, "but what I can say is, if a survivor goes into a hearing committee and says 'I was so scared I didn't say anything at all,' before affirmative consent, that means that you could have been consenting."

If the measure passes, it would apply to California colleges and universities receiving state financial aid.

Steve Meister, a defense attorney specializing in sexual assault cases, thinks the proposed law is confusing and will make little difference.

"The more chances you give a sexual assault victim to talk and tell her story in different ways to different people, the more you create problems for the prosecutor and opportunities for the defense and that's what this bill does," said Meister.

Advocates say the bill would provide a "consistent standard" that isn't currently in place. And California colleges will also have to improve their assault prevention programs.

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