By Cesar Martinez
The California Senate Public Safety Committee narrowly passed a bill that includes “stealthing” as a form of rape, allowing the bill to move on to the Assembly for a vote.
Stealthing criminalizes no-consensual condom removal or tampering of a condom during sex without consent. The bill would make misrepresentation of contraception a felony with two to four years in a state prison and a fine of $10,000.
“The goal here is to call it what is, to put in the books, so that people know it is a crime,” said author of the bill, assembly member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).
Although some lawmakers are concerned with the bill including innocent people, Garcia said, “It is part of the process to allow discretion of district attorneys and judges to do their job, and more often than not the judicial system is on the right side of not sending innocent people to prison.”
The assemblywoman introduced the amended bill at the Planned Parenthood Day of Action Rally in May as a necessity to address the need to further define the legal meaning of rape. Garcia expressed the seriousness of the crime as it not only eliminates consent but exposes victims to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.
In a report by the Futures Without Violence organization, “approximately one in five young women said they experienced pregnancy coercion and one in seven said they experienced active interference with contraception (also called birth control sabotage).”
According to the FBI’s 2016 Crime in the United States report, violent crime in the U.S. showed an overall increase with “murders increasing 5.2 percent; rapes (legacy definition) were up 4.4 percent and rapes (revised definition) increased 3.5 percent.
“We need to be clear about what consent is and we need to have those discussions in society,” Garcia said.
Due to the recent cases involving former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner and Bill Cosby, lawmakers such as Garcia and Wisconsin representative, Melissa Sargent, have been pushing towards an end of an alarming increase of sexual violence throughout the nation.
The amended bill passed on a 4-3 vote, and will now include revisions protecting both sexes, such as lying about being on contraception as a felony.
The bill is scheduled to be revised and amended for another hearing by the Committee on Aug. 21.