Stealthing Might Be Banned in Victoria — So, What Is It?

Trigger warning: this article contains references to sexual assault.

In this important explainer, I’m not going to mince words: Stealthing is a form of rape. It isn’t a lit trick that frat boys and pickup artists perform. It isn’t a classic joke worth emulating from a Family Guy episode. It’s reprehensible. It’s disgusting. It’s a way that a human can steal another person’s autonomy through raping their body. 

Stealthing is a specific form of sexual assault. It has its own attributes. So let’s unpack what makes stealthing a vile and cowardly act:

What Is Stealthing?

Stealthing is typically when someone with a penis tricks another person into having sex with them without a condom on. This sex can be vaginal or anal. They can take the condom off before sex or during sex. 

Sex without informed consent is rape. Making someone do a sexual act involuntarily dehumanises them to the nth degree, is a cruel form of disrespect, and can create lifelong trauma in someone’s body and mind. Therefore, if someone doesn’t know that they’re having unprotected sex while being penetrated, they can’t consent to this act. This means that stealthing is a form of rape. 

Some individuals argue that they stealth because sex feels better without a condom. But this is an unsatisfactory reason. No sex is can be so good that it’s worth disregarding someone’s hopes, trust, future existence, and humanity. No sex is so good that it’s worth giving a person a lifetime’s worth of trauma. If you have to be inhumane and remorseless to pretend that stealthing’s okay. 

Related: Disclosing Sexual Assault — As a Survivor, or as a Friend

Related: Active Consent — Definition and How It Differs from Passive Consent

What Are Australia’s Stealthing Laws?

In October 2021, The Conversation reported that the ACT became the first place in Australia to outlaw stealthing. At the time, they were one of the only countries to do so. Since then, SBS outlined that Tasmania banned this act in May 2022. 

NSW has gone a different route. As Brazel Moore Lawyers explained, while stealthing isn’t banned, it’s illegal to have sex with someone in the state without consent. Therefore, in the court of law, stealthing could be a punishable offence, but this situation is more legally murky than it needs to be. 

But what about the other states and territories? According to BroadAgenda, stealthing isn’t a crime in them. 

Will Victoria Make Stealthing Illegal?

As per The Herald Sun, some reforms have been introduced to the Victorian parliament that would make stealthing in Vic against the law. With Godspeed, may they pass. May similar legislation pass in every country.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, please contact the Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line on 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) or head to The Australian Human Rights Commission for a list of state by state resources.

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