California has become the first state in the US to make stealthing — removing a condom without a person’s consent — illegal.
The law amends the state 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.”
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) told the Los Angeles Times that, while stealthing has been an existing problem, it has gone unrecognized legally because of its covert nature.
“It’s been going on for awhile. There’s blogs online that are helping individuals, teaching them how to get away with this,” Garcia told the Los Angeles Times. “We need to be able to call it what it is in order to be able to deter behavior.”
Stealthing has been a problem for years, but is only just being discussed in the mainstream
Stealthing has gotten more attention in recent years because of its increased visibility on popular shows like “I May Destroy You.” Written by Michaela Coel, the show was lauded for addressing less recognized instances of sexual assault like stealthing as what they are: assault.
However, stealthing has existed for years with little recognition as a growing problem.
A 2017 report published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law found stealthing is a trend in sexual assault that is on the rise, as more people report it has happened to them. A 2018 study by researchers at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre found one in three women and one in five men who have sex with men report being stealthed during sex.
“Survivors [of stealthing] describe non-consensual condom removal as a threat to their bodily agency and as a dignitary harm,” Columbia report author Alexandra Brodsky told the Independent in 2017. “‘You have no right to make your own sexual decisions,’ they are told. ‘You are not worthy of my consideration.'”