UK Man Got Sentenced For Intentionally Piercing The Condom Before Use. Why Is Stealthing Still Not Illegal In India?
Recently, a UK train driver got a four-year sentence for sexually assaulting a woman by puncturing holes into the condom using a pin. The woman had found the pin and some unused perforated condoms in the bedside drawer. Upon inspecting the used ones, she found that those too were pierced. She filed a case against her partner because her consent was conditional and required the condom to not have been meddled with.
Glyn Samuel, the woman’s lawyer said, “He told police he had hoped the condom would split and it would improve the intimacy…He said it was the stupidest thing he has ever done. In piercing the condom beforehand there was a degree of planning involved.”
On the other hand, Lynette McClement, defending, had a little argument to make considering the sheer violation of the bodily agency of the woman here. She said, “She had every right to choose her form of contraception. He had hoped it would tear, and as a result, she would change her mind. It is an unusual case.”
And while the incident is mind-numbing since we are so sick and tired of the number of ways men can find to violate our bodies, the sentencing of the accused came as a relief. The judge said, “It was a breach of trust. The offence of rape is so serious a custodial sentence is appropriate.”
To call stealthing a mere toxic behavior is understating it because it is nothing short of sexual assault. What is stealthing? It is the non-consensual removal of condoms (or puncturing it) while having sex with someone thereby exposing them to the risk of STIs and pregnancy. It is a violation of the victim’s trust, boundaries, and bodily agency. When a woman consents to protected sex, it must be classified as rape if the man intends to remove or tear the condom.
This act is disgustingly common. A study at a Melbourne sexual health clinic revealed that 32 % of women participants revealed they have been a victim of stealthing at some point in their sexually active life. 19% of men who had sex with other men too revealed to have been a victim of stealthing. Even though they don’t run the risk of pregnancy, they still have to protect themselves from STDs, and either way, it is a breach of trust, nonetheless.
On top of this, considering the dark nature of the web, a quick Google search will lead you to articles that guide men on how to practice stealthing successfully. It’s like a manual of sexual assault. “Stealthing is controversial. Yes, I know that. But it’s also a reality. If you want to do it, you need to know how. If you don’t, you should know the techniques someone employs,” reads one such article as quoted by The Swaddle.
Unfortunately, there is barely any literature or research on stealthing around the world. In fact, there are hardly any cases that get officially reported. However, since it is clearly a violation of consent, there has been a successful conviction of sexual assaulters who practiced stealthing in places like Switzerland, Australia, the United States of America, Germany, and now the United Kingdom and more.
But back home, excuse me if I am not surprised that stealthing hasn’t found a place in the list of crimes in India’s judicial system. Rape culture in India and several other countries exists because of the lack of understanding of consent and boundaries. The Hathras rape case had the entire country shaken, and yet if you watch the Quint’s documentary on Haryana’s rape culture, your blood will boil to the point of evaporation. You will see young boys at the onset of puberty saying rape happens because the girl leads them on by smiling at them. Little girls say that their teachers taught them women too are responsible for rape. Men and women of all age groups confidently implied that you cannot clap with one hand and that consensual sex is often termed rape when it’s done and dusted. With that mindset, can you even be surprised when the very men trusted to dispense justice ask a rape survivor how she was able to sleep at night after being violated? What do you say when the judge gives bails to a rapist by rather character-assassinating the rape survivor?
“The law in India deals only with consent, and non-consent; it’s very black and white. It doesn’t have the finesse that can make such an act punishable, and we aren’t there yet. We are a long way off,” Flavia Agnes, women’s rights lawyer told Mid Day.
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Stealthing has found its representation in HBO’s latest series May I Destroy You in which the female protagonist consents to have sex with a guy, who removes the condom as she turns around. While we’d find it black and white obvious that stealthing is a sexual offence, men who do it fail to see it that way. A stealther said on a radio show that it’s a win-win for all. “Pull it out, take it off, put it back in. Everyone’s happy,” he said. I mean, how fucked in the head do you have to be to think that way? It is infuriating that people have a mindset that is so hazardous to our autonomy and yet, you can never tell which guy would be that guy.
ALSO READ:In Pakistan, Two Men Raped A Woman In Front Of Her Children. The Police Say She Chose The Wrong Route. Because Why Hold Men Responsible?
Why can’t we just take a cue from the UK’s brilliant move of making relationship education compulsory in primary schools? Sexual health charity Brook told Cosmopolitan UK, “Brook welcomes the new change in legislation that means from 2019 relationships education is to be made compulsory in primary schools and relationships & sex education will be compulsory in secondary schools. By teaching young people from an early age about friendships, feelings and boundaries, they are better equipped to develop healthy attitudes towards relationships later in life.” While we place so much importance on learning about the mountains and forests of the world, can we not give children the psychosocial training (we need sex education in India) that can very well curb crimes against women in India? In fact, it’s time to see crimes against women as crimes against humanity—it’s not one gender’s responsibility. And stealthing? It needs to be seen in its true sense and calling it what it is—rape!