A New Bill Would Officially Classify "Stealthing" As Sexual Assault

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Wisconsin Democrat Melissa Sargent has proposed a bill that would define "stealthing" — the act of removing a condom during sex without a partner’s explicit consent — as sexual assault.
According to NBC News, the bill, LRB3346, states that if "an actor removes a sexually protective device such as a condom before or during sexual intercourse or other sexual contact without his or her partner’s permission, there has been no valid consent to that act."
As Refinery29's own Britni de la Cretza wrote in April, "It is important to be clear that non-consensual condom removal is sexual assault: It forces people into a sexual situation that they were not expecting and did not agree to."
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Though the bill doesn’t clearly state what punishment the offender would receive, it does give us hope that lawmakers such as Sargent are fighting to ensure sexual violence and assault in the United States is given the attention it deserves.
In addition to being a violation of both body and trust, stealthing may also result in pregnancy, STIs, and trauma.
Unfortunately, many people are currently unfamiliar with the term "stealthing" and may not know what actions to take if it happens to them. A recent study conducted by Alexandra Brodsky for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law found that at least one of the participants considered the act “rape-adjacent” and that others felt as if they didn’t know how to classify it.
In the United States, 1 in 6 women has either been raped or the victim of attempted rape, according to RAINN. To put that in perspective, RAINN also notes that 17.7 million women in the US alone have "been victims of attempted or completed rape" since 1998. That’s over 300,000 rapes each year — many of which were not prosecuted in a court of law.
If LRB3346 passes, it will hopefully give people the understanding they need to spur a conversation about all types of sexual assault and to empower survivors to seek resources and support they need.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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