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Stealthing and Consent Bill

16 November 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The Greens also support this bill, and in so doing I want to commend the Hon. Connie Bonaros for her leadership on this issue in putting forward a private member's bill. It is good to see that the government has taken this up and followed the Hon. Ms Bonaros's lead on this very important issue.

We know, of course, that when it comes to consent to engage in sexual intercourse that it is vital that consent continues throughout sexual intercourse, and that is where the behaviour of stealthing, that is, removing a condom without permission, is really so abhorrent. This is behaviour that is, unfortunately, all too common. I understand that in 2018 a study by Monash University and the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre surveyed around 2,000 people—this is reported in, and I am quoting from that article—and found that one in three women and almost one in five men who have sex with men had experienced stealthing.

The author and journalist Monica Tan has described 'non-consensual condom removal—and again I am quoting from the article—as a sort of rape', in an article for The Guardian published in 2015. 'I call what he did rape like. He called it pushing my boundaries,' she wrote. To make it clear in terms of the impact of this behaviour, survivors have made clear, according to a Yale student Alexander Brodsky who wrote in her paper titled 'Rape adjacent, imagining legal responses to non-consensual condom removal', that was published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law:

Survivors make it clear as a result of the removed condoms they experienced fear of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy and also a less concrete but deeply-felt feeling of violation.

There are lots of places around the world that have taken this matter very seriously and have legislated accordingly. California has moved to address this issue, and also recently in the ACT—and I understand the Victorian parliament is also looking at it. It is very important for us to change our laws here in South Australia to ensure that this is adequately addressed as the crime that it is. With that, I commend the bill.