As Lee outlined, stealthing not only poses risks in the act itself, but numerous consequences that follow as a result. By removing the condom, the physical and psychological health of victims is at risk through transmission of sexually transmitted infections and disease and unplanned pregnancies, while stealthing also often causes depression, anxiety, and in some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder. “Stealthing is a traumatic thing for any person to go through and I am very proud that the ACT has passed the nation-leading reforms to specifically criminalise this heinous act,” said Lee.
The news of the criminalisation comes after a stealthing case had been before the Victorian courts for more than two years without a result. As Lee explained, she didn’t want the same to happen in the territory: “We cannot wait for cases to come before courts before stealthing is specifically outlawed.” She added, “We need to act proactively and send a clear message to the community that this behaviour is unacceptable, and a crime.”
That stealthing has been criminalised is a major victory, particularly for the victims affected by such sex acts. One in three women and one in five queer men have been the victim of stealthing, according to an Australian study. Of these, female sex workers are particularly at risk. In a Facebook post, Lee wrote: “It [stealthing] is a disgusting act that happens at a vulnerable and intimate time and we, as a community, must make it clear it is unacceptable. Our laws should reflect that.”
It’s a statement that was echoed by ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury, who has said: “A strong and clear criminal justice response to sexual offending is important, not only for victims and survivors, but also the entire community.”