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27th Apr 2017

‘It’s a crime in Ireland’ – Rape Crisis Network Ireland reacts to ‘stealthing’

‘Stealthing’ is a word you need to know.

The term refers to the practice of a man removing a condom during sex without his partner’s knowledge.

It’s something that’s come to widespread attention this week after a new study in the US called for more legal protection for those affected by stealthing.

As well as risking pregnancy and the spread of STDs, stealthing “is experienced by many as a grave violation of dignity and autonomy,” writes Alexandra Brodsky of Yale Law School in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

In the paper, Brodsky goes as far as to call the practice ‘rape-adjacent’.

Clíona Saidléar of Rape Crisis Network Ireland says that stealthing is in fact a “very serious offence.”

“It would be defined as an assault under Irish law,” she says.

“It’s a very serious offence and people should know that if they think it’s just a bit rude but that it’s innocuous, no – it’s actually a crime in Ireland.”

She says that people might assume that, because someone has agreed to sex, stealthing is okay, but that’s not the case.

“It can be tied up with the notion of consent, or when consent is assumed.

“It can also be a part of the abuse, where they go ‘no, I’m not wearing that’ – that overt refusal to wear a condom.”

Clíona told Her that she has come across the issue of stealthing in her work with the RCNI  and says anyone who’s concerned about it should talk to someone about it.

“What underlines all of this is the denial of the woman’s right to choose what happens to her body.

“If there’s a cultural casualness around this, we need to raise awareness.”

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