In New Zealand the first man convicted for rape after stealthing a woman

Giulia Saravini Lazzarotti May 7th, 2021

In New Zealand, a man from Wellington has been convicted of three years and nine months for rape. The man, in 2018, has been accused of stealthing a woman. 
Stealthing is a practice where a man removes his condom during sex without the consent of his partner.

This term has been discussed in a research paper of 2017 written by Alexandra Brodsky, a legal fellow at the National Women’s Law Center. This “rape-adjacent” practice becomes more and more popular after the drama series “I May Destroy You” (UK 2020), where Arabella, the main character (Michaela Coel), has been the victim of stealthing by one of her partners. This show’s a masterpiece about consent in its various forms and perspectives. It is a rape story that enlightened the consequences on women and men violated and, more precisely, a journey through a woman’s world and intersectional feminism.

According to The Guardian, in Australia, one in three women and one in five men have experienced stealthing abuse at least once in life.
Stealthing is a controversial topic, especially for abusers who often don’t think this is sexual assault but something in their rights. 

“Stealthing is ultimately removing the power and dignity of the individual, and it constitutes the erasure of that person’s bodily autonomy.”

Dr Samantha Keene, Victoria University of Wellington

A program specialist from 1800RESPECT – an australian counselling service for domestic violence and sexual abuse – Ali Hoswarth, explained that in a relationship, when consent is broken, it is called abuse, and in this specific case, it is “rape”.
People tend to compare this practice to women who lie to a partner about taking the birth control pill, deciding to have a child without the partner consent. Is there violence in that behaviour? Yes. Is it comparable to stealthing? Absolutely not. In the first instance, when a woman lies about contraception, the first to be affected by this action is herself and her body with the pregnancy. In addition to that, another important aspect to consider is the power that men retain to have on women’s body, putting their pleasure first during intercourse, breaking a consensual pact established before.

This sentence is significant because it demonstrates that everyone has the right to choose not only to say yes to sexual activity but also at what condition this consent becomes effective.

New Zealand is one of the most inclusive countries among the Pacific Islands, with 47.5 women and 11% of LGBT people in parliament. The debates across this violence must be vital, especially in the light of recent facts where the police have been accused of not taking seriously women reporting stealthing cases. According to a Monash University study, only 1% of people victims of this abuse decided to go to the police. Still, it seems that awareness around this topic is raised.
This sentence could lead to a change in regulation in other States, opening the doors for a much more open and safe country.

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