A Dutch court has made a landmark decision in convicting a man for "stealthing" during sex. The act of "stealthing" involves removing a condom during sex without the partner's consent, which can expose them to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. The court found that the man's actions had forced his partner to have unprotected sex, which violated her personal freedom and trust. The court sentenced the man, a Syrian-born resident of Rotterdam, to a three-month suspended prison sentence and a 1,000 euro fine for damages. This case marks the first conviction for "stealthing" in the Netherlands.
While the court acquitted the man of a rape charge, it ruled that the sex was consensual based on the agreement between the suspect and the complainant about sexual penetration. The judge found that there was no coercion during the sexual act. The defendant had sent the victim texts after sex, including one that claimed she would "be fine" after learning about the act.
"Stealthing" has become an increasingly significant issue for courts worldwide as they try to determine how to handle cases that involve unwanted sexual acts. In recent years, instances of "stealthing" have increased, leading to the creation of websites like Stealthing.nl in the Netherlands, which is run by a "stealthing" victim. However, tracking these cases can be challenging because authorities often categorize them under rape charges.
In the United States, California has banned "stealthing" and requires verbal consent before removing a condom. However, the state has yet to update its criminal code and instead relies on a civil code change so that victims can sue the perpetrator for damages. In 2021, Massachusetts State Sen. Diana DiZoglio supported a bill to ban the act in her state, stating that it is an important issue that needs attention from legislators so that they can stand with survivors.
In a 2018 case in Germany, a police officer was convicted of sexual assault and received an eight-month suspended sentence for "stealthing." The court also ordered him to pay 3,100 euros in damages.
The court's decision in the Netherlands marks an important step in acknowledging and punishing the act of "stealthing." It highlights the importance of consent during sexual acts and the trust that partners place in each other during intimate moments. As the issue continues to gain attention worldwide, it is essential for lawmakers and legal systems to take the necessary steps to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.