California will soon make it illegal to remove a condom without consent
- If signed by the governor, California Assembly Bill 453 will make stealthing a crime punishable by law in the US state.
- Stealthing refers to the act of removing a condom without your partner's knowledge or consent.
- While it is a known form of sexual assault, no existing US state or federal laws prohibit stealthing.
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Bill AB 453 was sent to Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday.
If signed by Newsom, stealthing will be categorised as a form of sexual battery and allow survivors to sue for emotional and physical damages.
The law will amend 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 unrecognised 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 behaviour."
Stealthing has been a problem for years, but is only just being discussed in the mainstream
Stealthing has received 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 recognised 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.'"
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