Read: Everyday Violations of Consent We Don't Think About
The lawyer goes on to explain that technically, the Californian law on stealthing is just an amendment to the civil code, making the act a civil offense when done. “However, it is legally seen as a misdemeanor sexual battery despite not being explicitly named in the criminal code,” they say. “While it's not the penal code, this anti-stealthing law eliminates the ambiguity in any civil claim made highly guaranteeing the protection of people who experiences it, as if the act was a criminal offense.”
Ultimately, the anti-stealthing law is a timely and relevant tool that equips the court with more bullets to protect and uphold principles related to the current global climate of women’s safety. “While this law is not an exact antidote to cure rampant cases of sexual abuse, it is at the very least, the mark of continuous progress to achieve social justice while continually enhancing criminal justice,” says the source.
“While this law is not an exact antidote to cure rampant cases of sexual abuse, it is at the very least, the mark of continuous progress to achieve social justice while continually enhancing criminal justice,”
It’s a start, but the United States still has a long way to go. For instance, stealthing is considered rape in the UK – although there’s only been one successful conviction, and that was in 2019. (Under UK law, consent is required for each sexual act and is specific to what is agreed-upon.) After Germany overhauled its sex crimes laws in 2016, the first case was prosecuted two years later when a police officer was found guilty after stealthing his partner.
Read: A Short History of Sexual Consent
Swiss and Canadian courts have also prosecuted cases of condoms broken or removed by people with penises unbeknownst to their partners. And as of this month, steathing has been made a crime in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – the first territory to do so in Australia.
Hopefully, the new law will spark others like it — and make space for the hard conversations and necessary reform that needs to be had surrounding sexual assault.