The bill banning stealthing was sent by the state lawmakers to Governor Gavin Newsom, adding the act to state’s civil definition of sexual battery. The act states that removing condom during sex without obtaining the verbal consent of partner will be illegal.
It will allow the victim to sue the perpetrator for damages, including punitive damages once the civil code is amended. However, the act will not be included in the criminal code.
A study by Yale University pointed out the rise in acts of stealthing against both women and gay men, following which Democratic assemblywoman Cristina Garcia pushed for its legislation in 2017, seeking to criminalise the act in her original bill. Back then, experts said the act already fit in the misdemeanour sexual battery even is it was not specifically mentioned in the criminal code.
The discreet practice so far, experts said, was rarely prosecuted because proving whether the perpetrator acted intentionally instead of accidentally is difficult.
Ms Garcia argued that stealthing could cause physical and emotional harm to its victims. She had opposed the online communities that promote stealthing, seeking its criminalisation.
“It’s disgusting that there are online communities that defend and encourage stealthing and give advice on how to get away with removing the condom without the consent of their partner, but there is nothing in law that makes it clear that this is a crime,” the Democrat said in a statement.
The progressive act by California is among several that promote women’s safety and rights. It is also one of the 11 states to distinguish between spousal rape and other forms of sexual assault.
A related legislation on stealthing was moved by lawmakers in New York and Wisconsin but California is the first to declare the unfair practice “illegal”, Ms Garcia said.
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