In groundbreaking legislation, California has become the first state in the nation to make it illegal to remove a condom during sexual intercourse without the consent of the partner.
Nonconsensual condom removal — known as “stealthing” — is now a civil offense as sexual battery under state law, allowing victims to sue offenders for damages.
The bill was introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who began working on the issue following a Yale University study in 2017 revealing rising incidents of stealthing against women and gay men.
“Nonconsensual condom removal during sexual intercourse exposes victims to the physical risks of pregnancy and disease and, interviews make clear, is experienced by many as a grave violation of dignity and autonomy,” the Yale study noted. It “can be understood to transform consensual sex into nonconsensual sex.”
Some online communities encourage stealthing and even share tips on how to dupe a sexual partner.
The California State Legislature passed the measure without opposition last month, and it was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
“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. Stealthing “causes long-term physical and emotional harm to its victims,” she noted.
“I urge other states to follow in California’s direction and make it clear that stealthing is not just immoral but illegal,” she added.
The new law was hailed on Twitter by Alexandra Brodsky, a lawyer who conducted the Yale study while still a law school student.