Non-consensual condom removal
Non-consensual condom removal, or "stealthing", is the practice of one sex partner covertly removing a condom, when consent has only been given by the other sex partner for condom-protected safer sex.
History and practice
News and media outlets have reported on a research article by Alexandra Brodsky published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law about stealthing. In the article, Brodsky described victims' experiences, legal implications, and legal avenues to address stealthing. The term stealthing has been in use in the gay community to describe this practice since at least 2014.[update]
Brodsky described how the practice of stealthing is discussed, described, and advocated for on various websites and forums. These forums are sometimes used to brag about committing stealthing and to share tips on how to do it. The practice has also been described as "a threat to [a victim's] bodily agency and as a dignitary harm", and men who do this "justify their actions as a natural male instinct". Columbia Law School professor Suzanne Goldberg says that the practice of stealthing is likely not new, but its promotion on the internet among men is new. One such website, The Experience Project, posted how-to guides for men.
Condom negotiation is often silenced by male partners in adolescent relationships, partially due to the female's fear of her partner’s response, a feeling of obligation, and a lack of knowledge or skills in negotiating condom use. To prevent this, it is important that male partners are reached with the information as to why condoms are beneficial for them as well. Forums for this outreach could include community-wide interventions fostering discussion of healthy and unhealthy relationship practices and prevention programs for HIV/AIDS and STIs. Schools can provide a safe site for prevention interventions, but high-risk adolescents who are not in school must be reached through additional means, such as in community centers or detention centers.
Statistics on the prevalence of stealthing are limited. However, a 2014 study by Kelly Cue Davis and colleagues reported that 9.0% of participants in their sample of young men reported having engaged in condom sabotage, which included non-consensual condom removal. The National Sexual Assault Hotline reports receiving calls about stealthing.
Legal and ethical concerns
In UK law, consent to a specific sex act, but not to any sex act without exceptions, is known as conditional consent. In 2017, a Swiss court convicted a French man for rape for removing a condom during sex against the expectations of the woman he was having sex with. A 2014 Supreme Court of Canada ruling upheld a sexual assault conviction of a man who poked holes in his condom.
Existing laws in the United States do not specifically cover stealthing and there are no known legal cases about it. In her research on stealthing, Brodsky noted that Swiss and Canadian courts have prosecuted cases of condoms broken or removed by men unbeknownst to their partners. Brodsky describes stealthing as legally "rape-adjacent" and akin to rape.
Impact and risks
By removing the condom during sex, stealthing increases the risks of pregnancy and the transmittal of STIs and STDs. Victims may experience emotional and psychological distress as well, especially those who have experienced sexual violence in the past.
- Hatch, Jenavieve (21 April 2017). "Inside The Online Community Of Men Who Preach Removing Condoms Without Consent". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Brodsky, Alexandra (2017). "'Rape-Adjacent': Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal". Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. 32 (2). SSRN 2954726.
- Kelly, Laura (30 April 2017). "Law paper condemns 'stealthing' assailants removing condoms during intercourse without consent". The Washington Times.
- Nedelman, Michael (27 April 2017). "Some call it 'stealthing,' others call it sexual assault". CNN.
- Howard, Dave (10 May 2017). "What it's like to be a victim of 'stealthing'". Newsbeat. BBC News.
- Klein, Hugh (22 October 2014). "Generationing, Stealthing, and Gift Giving: The Intentional Transmission of HIV by HIV-Positive Men to their HIV-Negative Sex Partners". Health Psychology Research. 2 (3). doi:10.4081/hpr.2014.1582. ISSN 2420-8124. PMC 4768590. PMID 26973945.
- Glasser, Eric (25 April 2017). "Should it be a crime to remove a condom during sex?". St. Petersburg, Florida: WTSP.
- Rosenblatt, Kalhan (29 April 2017). "What is 'stealthing'?: Disturbing sexual practice detailed in new report". NBC News.
- Mullin, Malone (3 May 2017). "'I felt like I had been raped': Stealth removal of condom during sex raises legal, ethical concerns". CBC.
- Teitelman AM, Tennille J, Bohinski JM, Jemmott LS, Jemmott JB III Unwanted unprotected sex: Condom coercion by male partners and self-silencing of condom negotiation among adolescent girls. Advances in Nursing Science, 2011; 34 (3): 243-259
- Davis, Kelly Cue; Stappenbeck, Cynthia A.; Norris, Jeanette; George, William H.; Jacques-Tiura, Angela J.; Schraufnagel, Trevor J.; Kajumulo, Kelly F. (1 May 2014). "Young Men's Condom Use Resistance Tactics: A Latent Profile Analysis". The Journal of Sex Research. 51 (4): 454–465. doi:10.1080/00224499.2013.776660. ISSN 0022-4499. PMC 3723757. PMID 23548069.
- "Man Convicted of Rape After Removing Condom During Sex Without Consent". Broadly. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- "CPS Legal Guidance". www.cps.gov.uk. Crown Prosecution Service. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- "Man convicted of rape for taking off condom during sex". The Independent. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Williams, Zoe (16 January 2017). "Is removing a condom without permission rape?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- McVeigh, Sarah (19 May 2017). "Could this be Australia's first stealthing court case?". triple j. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- ""Is this rape?" The legal grey-area around prosecuting 'stealthing' in Australia". triple j. 2 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.