The US state of California has made the practice popularly known as “stealthing”, which consists of removing a condom during sexual intercourse without verbal consent, illegal and has been classified by law as “sexual assault”.
Federal legislation introduced this month could offer not only clarity but also a remedy for those who survived the theft. One of the bills, introduced last month, will clearly call theft a form of sexual violence and create a legal way for victims to sue those responsible for damages and compensation.
Violation of dignity
A separate bill, called Consent is a Key Act, encourages states to enact their own laws to compensate victims by increasing funding for federal programs to combat domestic violence in states that pass those laws.
Federal legislation proposed by Carolyn B. Meloni (New York), Norma J. Torres (D-California) and Roe Hanna (D-California) reflect the first-ever California law passed in October. The law expanded the definition of sexual harassment in the state’s civil code to include the removal of condoms without verbal consent.
With this new law, “Victims of ‘stealthing’ will be able to take civil action against their aggressors. By passing this bill, we are underscoring the importance of consent,” California Governor Gavin Newson’s office reported via Twitter.
“Theft is a serious violation of autonomy, dignity and trust, which is considered emotional and sexual violence,” reads the 2022 House of Representatives bill entitled The Theft Act.
“This is a significant step forward in the important but ignored issue of physical autonomy and reproductive rights,” said Oleksandra Brodsky, a lawyer and author of Sexual Justice.
Brodsky fears that because of the “deep-rooted” myths about rape and sexual violence in the legal system, lawyers, judges and jurors are not prepared to admit “condomination” without consent [sexual assault] unless the legislature clearly defines the crime.”
Sexually transmitted infection
In a 2017 Yale study, civil rights attorney Alexandra Brodsky interviewed male and female survivors of robbery, which she describes as a “serious violation of dignity and autonomy” and a “degrading and unauthorized violation of a sexual agreement.” “. A young woman told her partner that a condom was non-negotiable and that she would leave if he preferred not to use one. She agreed, but then secretly removed the condom during sex.
Survivors of the robbery experienced mental trauma, as well as fears of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. A 2019 survey on theft found that “men who had a history of nonconsensual condom removal were significantly more likely to have had a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection (29.5 per cent vs. 15.1 per cent) or to have had a partner who experienced an unplanned pregnancy (46.7 per cent)against 25.8 per cent).
What is Condom Stealthing?
“Condom Stealthing” is when someone deliberately removes a condom during penetrative sex without her partner’s consent or knowledge. Stealth is also known as “non-consensual withdrawal of the condom”. An example of a stealth scenario might be an instance where a victim tells her partner that she does not want to have unprotected sex and only consents to having sex with an external condom.
Their partner then secretly removes the condom during sex, often without informing the victim until some time after the incident (or ever). While not all acts of Stealthing look exactly like this particular scenario, it’s important to remember that they all share a common thread: lack of consent.
In the United States, stealth is just beginning to enter the national conversation, sparking debates about whether or not it is a problem and, if it is, how the problem should be addressed. This discussion has even reached the legal system. In both California and Wisconsin, lawmakers are currently trying to pass bills that would change state laws to classify the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex as sexual assault.
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