‘Stealthing’ is sexual assault and Congress should address it, lawmakers say

Source: USA Today

By Sean Rossman

Two federal lawmakers say “stealthing” — the act of secretly removing a condom during sex —  is a form of sexual assault that should be addressed by Congress. 

Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., asked leaders of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to hold a hearing on the “emerging” phenomenon, which they called “disgraceful” and “incredibly dangerous” in a joint letter.

“‘Stealthing’ can lead to lasting consquences,” their letter read, “such as unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, and is also a violation of trust and dignity between two sexual partners.”

The issue made headlines earlier this year when a report in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law pondered legal actions for stealthing victims.

The report described stealthing as common among young people, with victims being both men and woman. Stealthing victims worried they’d become pregnant or get a sexually transmitted disease, but the impacts went beyond the physical.

“Survivors experienced nonconsensual condom removal as a clear violation of their bodily autonomy and the trust they had mistakenly placed in their sexual partner,” the report said. 

The report said some legal maneuvers may provide relief to victims, but suggested new legal remedies may be needed. 

“I am horrified that we even need to be having this conversation, that a sexual partner would violate their partner’s trust and consent like this. Stealthing is sexual assault,” said Rep. Maloney. “We need a hearing so that Congress can hear from the experts about how to best address this issue as we continue to amend our country’s and universities’ responses to sexual assault and rape.”

Maloney and Khanna said the committee should explore stealthing’s prevalence, whether it alters consent and if legal recourses are sufficient. The effects of stealthing, Khanna said, are “far-reaching.”

“Consent is not up for discussion,” he said, “it is a requirement for the entirety of any sexual interaction. Stealthing violates an agreement between partners and is a dangerous form of sexual assault.”

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