SA could become the second Australian jurisdiction to criminalise stealthing

It follows the Australian Capital Territory passing legislation outlawing the practice last week.

Proposed laws to criminalise the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex have been introduced to South Australia's parliament.

Proposed laws to criminalise the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex have been introduced to South Australia's parliament. Source: EyeEm via Getty

This article contains references to sexual assault. 

South Australia would become the second jurisdiction in Australia to criminalise ‘stealthing’, or the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex, under proposed new laws.  

SA-Best MLC and Attorney General spokesperson Connie Bonaros on Wednesday introduced a bill to the state's parliment that legally categorises stealthing as a type of sexual assault, with a penalty range from 10 years to life imprisonment. 

It comes after the Australian Capital Territory became the first jurisdiction in the country to pass legislation outlawing the practice last week. 

"If you had asked me back in January what stealthing is, I would have had no idea," she told parliament. 

"And for those of you who are still unsure, you could easily be forgiven for not knowing what the term relates to - at least not by name.

"We have been consulting on this Bill for a good part of the year and have spoken with a broad range of stakeholders - from public health experts to victims.

"Stealthing is a repugnant, appalling thing to do to any person." 

The proposed legislation would amend current provisions under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act to explicitly state that a person's consent is negated "if it is caused by the misrepresentation by the other person about the use of a condom". 

She said stealthing is a "vulgar practice" which can cause serious harms to a person's physical and mental health, including STIs, unwanted pregnancies and post-traumatic stress. 

Recent studies suggest the practice is common. A 2018 study by Monash University and the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre surveyed 2,000 people and found one in three women - and almost one in five men who have sex with men - had experienced stealthing.

Under legislation brought forward by Canberra Liberals’ Elizabeth Lee, the ACT's amended Crimes Act now makes it illegal to remove a condum during sex or to not use a condom at all when condom use was previously agreed on.

There is debate in Australia over whether stealthing is already included under existing sex crimes or requires being specifically written into the law.

Following the law's passage in the nation's capital, women's rights groups, criminologists and lawyers who spoke to SBS News called for other jurisdictions to follow suit and introducer clear and consistent laws. 

They said this would help to empower those who have experienced stealthing to come forward, as well as educating the wider community. 

Ms Bonaros said she hoped her proposed legislation would empower victims to come forward, and send strong message to the community. 

"The very existence of this law will set a significant threshold - a clear line in the sand," she said. 

"If you cross the line, you are committing a crime - a very serious crime."

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.


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Published 13 October 2021 at 12:32pm, updated 13 October 2021 at 5:28pm
By Emma Brancatisano
Source: SBS News

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