California this week became the first state in the country to ban the removal of a condom during sex without a partner’s consent, making it a civil offense according to a state law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday.
"For a majority of the people, it's like, yeah, it makes sense that this is immoral and it should be illegal," said State Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, the bill’s sponsor, in an interview with NPR.
"A lot of people told me, 'I can't believe it's not already illegal,'" she said.
"I do hope that other states follow," Garcia added. "I do hope that this elevates the discussion."
Garcia noted that she was inspired by civil rights attorney Alexandra Brodsky’s 2017 law journal article about the practice, which is also known as "stealthing."
Brodsky told NPR that not only is the act a violation, it also increases the risk of spreading sexually transmitted disease or of unplanned pregnancy.
"The experience of realizing that your partner, your sexual partner, has no concern for your autonomy, your individual dignity, your right to make decisions about who you have sex with, when and how," Brodsky said, "that's a terrible violation regardless of whether a physical injury occurs, regardless of whether a pregnancy occurs."
The legislation does not make the act a crime, but it does allow people who have suffered the experience to sue the perpetrator in civil court. Brodsky noted that few sexual assault cases that are brought to law enforcement actually go to court, and many victims are reluctant to involve police.
"Civil litigation keeps decision-making in the hands of survivors, which can be particularly important in the wake of sexual violence, which is itself a denial of the victim's right to make decisions about their lives," Brodsky added.
"There are a lot of survivors who don't want to see the person who hurt them in prison but really could use some help rebuilding their lives, paying for mental health care, paying off medical debt, being able to take some time off from work in order to heal," she continued.
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