California has become the first state in the United States to outlaw ‘stealthing,’ a term used for the nonconsensual removal of a condom during sex.
The law, signed by governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday, makes it a civil sexual battery offense under state law for someone to remove a condom without their romantic partner’s consent.
“For a majority of the people, it’s like, yeah, it makes sense that this is immoral and it should be illegal,” state assembly member, Cristina Garcia, who sponsored the legislation, told NPR.
“A lot of people told me, ‘I can’t believe it’s not already illegal,'” she added.
“I have been working on the issue of ‘stealthing’ since 2017 and I am elated that there is now some accountability for those who perpetrate the act. Sexual assaults, especially those on women of color, are perpetually swept under the rug,” Garcia said in a statement when the bill was passed.
Garcia cited a study by Yale University that called stealthing “a grave violation of dignity and autonomy” and said cases affecting women and gay men are on the rise.
People found guilty of removing a condom without consent could be liable for general, special, and punitive damages, the law states.
A 2018 survey of patients at a sexual health clinic in Melbourne, Australia, found that 32 per cent of women and 19 per cent of men who have sex with men had experienced stealthing.