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USA in campaign against ‘stealthing’, the furtive withdrawal of the condom

In early October California became the first state to pass a law criminalizing the practice of stealthing.

One day when she was having sex, Brooke noticed something terrifying: “The condom was gone.”

“My heart almost stopped at that point,” said Brooke, whose name was changed to preserve her privacy.

The incident that occurred last year left her nervous, depressed and worried about the possibility of having become pregnant or contracting a venereal disease.

But more than anything, he wondered, “Was it a sexual assault?”

The stealthing is a recently coined term that refers to removing the condom during sexual intercourse without the consent of others.

The battle against this practice is gaining momentum in the United States. In early October California became the first state to pass a law criminalizing the stealthing practice.

Brooke, who was 28 at the time and studying in Tennessee, says she reacted as if she had been the victim of a “rape.”

He found conflicting information online, he said, “until I finally learned that I might consider it a form of sexual assault.”

The experience affected her greatly. She felt “very scared, very stressed” when she had sex; He “constantly” checked that the condom was still on.

But “to be able to articulate it as a form of aggression,” he told the AFP, “Helps to process it, accept it, and understand that it is not the victim’s fault.”

Elected officials in the United States are fighting to outlaw the practice by law, which would pave the way for complaints.

Among those representatives is Cristina García, who proposed the California law from her own experience.

“There are men who tried and I noticed it at the time,” he explained. “I was lucky to warn them and stop them. Many women have not had that luck, “he added.

When he perceived how “frequent” the stealthing and discovered that there are communities on the web that incite this practice and teach tricks to deceive their sexual partners, García considered passing a law. In 2017 he made his first legislative proposal.


Garcia was ultimately successful, and in October the California governor signed into law a law allowing victims to claim financial compensation.

In other parts of the United States, attempts were made to pass similar laws but without the same fate.

For Melissa Agard, a Wisconsin Democrat who proposed a bill against the stealthing in 2017, the fact that legislators are mostly men makes them more likely to “look down on” the issue.

“I think it is difficult for them to listen to those conversations that make them feel uncomfortable,” he told the AFP.

García highlighted the role of the British television series “I May Destroy You”, launched in 2020 and whose protagonist is a victim of stealthing, to help “understand and believe in the trauma” generated by this practice and help give it visibility.

Despite its risks, the issue has been little investigated, so its magnitude is unknown.

A study published in the United States in 2019 showed that 12% of respondents between the ages of 21 and 30 had suffered stealthing.

For Caroline Maloney, a member of the House of Representatives who advocates for a national law, federal actions must begin with the collection of data so that members of Congress realize “the dangers and the preponderance of the stealthing.

That action may already be considered sexual assault in some states where the use of force is not considered a requirement in determining a battery case, according to Sherry Colb, a Cornell University law professor.

Colb supports the laws against the “stealthing”, But doubts its effectiveness because the defendants could claim that“ the condom came off or that she agreed to have it removed ”. (I)

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