South Australia joins other states in criminalising ‘stealthing’

The act of non-consensually removing a condom during sex — known as ‘stealthing’ — is set to be criminalised in South Australia, with offenders facing a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. 

A bill to outlaw ‘stealthing’ — which is reportedly committed to one in three Australian women — was passed through SA parliament’s upper house on Wednesday. With further government support, the bill’s passing will mean that the state joins Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and the ACT in outlawing the practice. SA Best politician Connie Bonaros, a main supporter of the bill, said ‘stealthing’ is a “repugnant and disgusting act of betrayal”.

It should have been criminalised years ago,” Bonaros said in a statement. “Such grotesque acts of indecency deserve to be treated in the same manner as rape and a crime punishable by terms of imprisonment.” Bonaros went on to say that the bill won’t “get much, if any, opposition from any politician,” meaning that the state’s current Criminal Law Consideration Act will soon explicitly state that non-consensual condom removal will be punishable by imprisonment.

Credit: Urs Siedentop & Co/Stocksy United

Bonaros pointed to a recent study which found that one in three women, and one in five men who have sex with men, have been ‘stealthed’ in their lifetime, a statistic which she deemed as “shocking”. She continued: “You can’t begin to imagine the level of damage to both a person’s physical and psychological well-being.

Aside from its psychological toll, unwanted condom removal heightens one’s chance of unwanted pregnancy and the contraction of sexually transmitted infections and diseases. In the wake of the news, advocates have been pushing for the remaining states — namely in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory– to follow suit with the introduction of their own ‘stealthing’ laws. 

It comes a few weeks after a study discovered that the overwhelming majority of Australians agree that the practice should be banned. Conducted by RMIT University’s Dr Brianna Chesser, the study found that some four in five Australians (81%) believed ‘stealthing’ to be a criminal act.