California Could Become First State To Make Removing A Condom Without Consent Illegal
California could become the first state in the US to make stealthing – removing a condom without a person’s consent – illegal.
Under current US laws, stealthing is not considered a crime anywhere in the country, however, a proposed new bill in California could deem the act as a form of sexual battery.
If passed, AB 453 would allow survivors to sue perpetrators for emotional and physical damages. It was formally proposed by Cristina Garcia on February 8.
Garcia has moved to amend the state’s definition of sexual battery to include ‘a person who causes contact between a penis, from which a condom has been removed, and the intimate part of another who did not verbally consent to the condom being removed’.
While in the UK, stealthing is illegal and is classified as sexual assault, there are no civil or penal codes that recognise it as a crime in the US.
Garcia told the Los Angeles Times that because of this, the problem has gone largely unrecognised legally.
‘It’s been going on for a while. There’s blogs online that are helping individuals, teaching them how to get away with this. We need to be able to call it what it is in order to be able to deter behaviour,’ she said.
Garcia attempted to push through bills that would have made stealthing a crime in California in 2017 and 2018, but they did not move forward due to concerns they would increase the prison population.
In 2019, US Representative for New York, Carolyn Maloney, asked the Department of Justice to clarify its stance on stealthing, whether it collects data on the act, and if survivors are considered crime victims.
‘Ambiguity about what behaviours are considered sexual assault both confuses law enforcement and endangers victims. Without consistent data on sexual assault across the country, we run the risk of not having the facts necessary to combat it,’ she said in a letter.
Carly Mee, an attorney at Fierberg National Law Group who represents victims of sexual violence, has voiced her support for the proposed bill.
‘This is an act that’s a violation of someone’s autonomy. There’s the risk of pregnancy, there’s the risk of STIs, but also inherently it’s changing the entire nature of the sexual encounter,’ she said.
‘Under the California bill, it would lay it out much more clearly that this is actually a violation, and someone can pursue damages from the perpetrator,’ she added.
Elizabeth Jeglic, a psychology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, said the psychological trauma caused by stealthing is similar to that experienced by rape victims.
‘A lot of women describe it to feelings of experiencing rape. It violates the trust you had in your partner,’ she told the LA Times.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this story, you can speak in confidence about where to get help from Mind free on 0300 123 3393, 9am–6pm Monday to Friday.
Most Read StoriesMost Read