- Stealthing is an act in which a man removes condom during sex without knowledge or consent of his partner.
- Stealthing is considered rape under the UK laws.
Stealthing… an act in which a man removes his condom during sex without knowledge or consent of his partner. Sounds normal right? No! It should not be a norm, but rather criminalised.
Stealthing, also known as non-consensual condom removal (NCCR), is an ugly sexual trend that is on the rise around the world, raising health and social welfare concerns. The act leaves a sexual partner vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted disease, if not emotional stress.
Carlifornia on Thursday became the first U.S state to render stealthing illegal.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bipartisan bill that outlaws non-consensual condom removal, with the new legislation adding the act to the state’s civil definition of sexual battery.
In United Kingdom laws, stealthing is considered rape. However, there has been only one successful prosecution, in 2019.
A woman whose name is withheld had sex with a man who removed the condom without her knowledge or consent.
“It was only afterwards I realised what he’d done and I felt so upset and worried. I got the morning-after pill, but when I didn’t get my period the following month I took a pregnancy test,” she tells BBC Radio 1, that she was shocked to discover she was pregnant.
She told the guy but to him it was not a bid deal. He told her to procure an abortion. “In the end I decided to get a termination but it was a very difficult decision to make – I beat myself up about it so much because I wanted a baby but knew it wasn’t the right circumstances.”
She reported the experience to the police but the case was not taken seriously. “I actually went to them when I realised it is rape and because I got pregnant.”
Stealthing: Challenge of jurisprudence
Prosecuting NCCR seems to be a tall order because of the lack of mention in any developed jurisprudence across the world.
But certain courts have dealt with the issue in one way or another. The Supreme Court of Canada and Swiss Criminal Courts, for instance, have both termed stealthing as rape (R v. Hutchinson, 2014).
A Swiss court, in January 2017, convicted a man of rape after he took off his condom without telling his partner. The court concluded the woman would have said no to sex if the condom had been removed.
In South Africa, where the vice is also rampant, the law is not very clear on NCCR, although with the right interpretation of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007, stealthing can be found to be a crime.
A 2017 study by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Southern Africa revealed that “men would grow one fingernail and use it to slit the end of the condom just before penetration, rolling the condom back and tricking them into unprotected sex.”
Here in Kenya, analysis of sexual offences act explicates that stealthing has all the hallmarks of a crime but no law is yet to categorise as one.