Man convicted of ‘stealthing’ after removing condom without permission


A Dutch court has sentenced a man for ‘sneaking’, removing his condom without his partner’s consent and forcing unsafe sex during a date in the summer of 2021. The court suspended the 28-year-old from Rotterdam for three months in prison and ordered him to pay 1,000 euros, or approximately $1,075, in damages to the victim on charges of coercion.

The man, identified by local media as Khaldoun F., was cleared of rape charges on Tuesday. In a statement, the Rotterdam court said he was “restricting the victim’s personal freedom and abusing the trust she had placed in him” and putting her at risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It also said that a broad interpretation of the law would be needed for sexual penetration without a condom to be covered by rape laws.

The case according to Dutch media, the first stealth conviction in the Netherlands is part of a growing global awareness of the nuances of consent. Experts say that while the term stealth is not widely known, the experience is relatively common, with surveys indicating incidence rates ranging from 8 to 43 percent of women and 5 to 19 percent of men who have sex with men, according to a recent review article that looked at data from around the world.

In a 2017 paper by civil rights attorney Alexandra Brodsky who pushed the term into mainstream discourse, victims called the act “rape-adjacent” and described it as a violation of bodily autonomy. Still, stealth remains a subject of debate over whether it should be banned and how it should be legally classified.

Attempts have been made to legally penalize stealth perpetrators in several countries, including Singapore, Switzerland, Canada and parts of Australia – but the crime is not included in the criminal code in the Netherlands, where about 3 percent of people experience physical sexual violence, according to a 2020 CBS report.

In the United States, federal legislation was introduced last spring that would have allowed victims to sue for stealth, but it failed to make it past committee. States like New York and Wisconsin have tried to pass legislation that would penalize stealth, but so far only California has done so. In 2021, the state expanded its sexual battery laws to include what is also known as non-consensual condom removal, or NCCR, and to allow victims to sue for civil damages.

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Kelly Cue Davis, a clinical psychologist and professor at Arizona State University who has studied stealth, said the decision in the Dutch case reflected the complexity of the law.

“What we see happening in this particular lawsuit is what a lot of people who have experienced stealth struggle with,” she said, noting that many victims aren’t sure what to make of their experience. “The person being stolen agrees to have sex, but they agree to have it this particular way. And then that won’t happen.”

There is also “a lot of confusion because people don’t know what to call it. People have never heard of it. They just know it feels bad,” she said.

That confusion and the deceptive nature of the act makes stealth particularly underreported, Davis said. Some victims don’t know they’ve experienced sneaking until their partner tells them, they find out they’re pregnant or have a sexually transmitted disease — or possibly never.

“Of course that’s really problematic in terms of being able to seek help from law enforcement, but also getting needed health care on time,” she said.

Tuesday’s sentencing was largely based on WhatsApp messages between Khaldoun and the victim, in which she asked if he had a sexually transmitted disease and expressed concern about removing the condom, which he claimed he thought she “felt” .

In a separate case, a 25-year-old man was acquitted because the Dutch judge was ‘not convinced’ that the suspect had made a ‘deliberate choice’ to remove the condom without his partner being aware of it.

Amar Nadhir contributed to this report.

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