California has become the first state in the United States to make’stealthing,’ a slang term for removing a condom during sex without consent, illegal.
The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, makes removing a condom without the agreement of a love partner a civil sexual battery misdemeanor under California law.
“For the vast majority of people, it makes sense that this is immoral and should be outlawed,” Cristina Garcia, a State Assembly member who supported the bill, told NPR.
“Many people told me, ‘I can’t believe that isn’t already criminal,'” she continued.
“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 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 were 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% of women and 19% of men who have sex with men had experienced stealthing.