Lawmakers Call for "Stealthing" to Be Classified as Rape
U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) announced on Wednesday that they would push lawmakers to have "stealthing," or nonconsensual condom removal, classified as rape.
In a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee, Maloney and Khanna called for a hearing on stealthing, which gained widespread attention when Alexandra Brodsky published an article that envisioned potential legal responses to it in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law in April. While her research has prompted a public conversation on the phenomenon, Maloney and Khanna's letter is the first indication that the nation's top elected officials will look into the crime. (Lawmakers in Wisconsin and California have introduced bills that would expand the definitions of consent and rape to include those who remove a condom without consent or otherwise tamper with sexual protection without the other person's knowledge.
Rep. Khanna, who has previously served on the board of his local Planned Parenthood and served in the United States Department of Commerce under President Obama, said in an email to ELLE.com that a legislative aide alerted him to the practice. Soon, students reached out, wanting him to address the problem. "As a former lecturer at Stanford, I was appalled to hear of this trend of nonconsensual condom removal, particularly on college campuses," he said.
Khanna raised the issue with Maloney, whom he credits as "a leader on campus sexual assault and women’s health issues." And she agreed; "Congress [needs] to address the issue," she wrote in an emailed statement.
She framed their push in the context of the recent rollback of Title IX guidelines at the Department of Education, both in terms of the law itself and to show survivors that Congress has their support. "If we codify protections for survivors of sexual assault and rape into the law rather than relying on rules and guidance, these policies are no longer subjected to the whim and interpretation of Cabinet Secretaries charged with their implementation," she said.
Read Maloney and Khanna's full letter here.