Group seeks to change conversation on sexual consent - WNEM TV 5

I-TEAM

Group seeks to change conversation on sexual consent

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

It's a well-known phrase: "no means no."

A national movement has emerged to change that to "Yes means yes."

And it's gaining traction right in Mid-Michigan.

Allie Martinez is sexual assault prevention educator for Saginaw-based Underground Railroad, Inc. a victim services organization.

"I think that it's at a new importance. I think that it's being recognized as important now," Martinez said.

She supports new proposed legislation in Michigan that would change the way today's youth are education about rape.

This new legislation is changing that to yes means yes, so how exactly does that change the way it's presented to people?

"It puts the burden of proof on the person who has committed the act, rather than the victim of the act," Martinez said.

The I-Team discovered the new standard would make it the responsibility of each person to get a firm yes to begin engaging in sex.

A lack of protest, not saying no, or silence wouldn't equal consent.

Consent would be able to be revoked at any time during the sex act, and being in a relationship with a person, past or present, would not automatically equal consent.

Dana Houston works hand in hand at Underground Railroad with Martinez.

"Flipping it and going to yes means yes is encouraging more communication there," Houston said.

She said this proposal is a step in the right direction, particularly when it comes to acquaintance rape.

The I-Team discovered the statistics are shocking.

Nationwide, approximately 80 percent of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

And 47 percent of rapists are friends of the victim.

Opponents of nationwide movement argue it would seemingly criminalize consensual sex.

But Houston said don't buy it.

All supporters are trying to do is save women from an unwanted encounter.

"It really just suggests that there is a whole slew of women out there just looking to entrap men," Houston said.

So far, the bill has had its initial reading in Lansing.

There hasn’t been movement yet, but Houston and Martinez are hoping yes means yes soon becomes the new no means no.

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