The man, identified by local media as Khaldoun F., was acquitted of rape charges on Tuesday. In a statement, the Rotterdam court said he had restricted the victim’s ‘personal freedom and abused the trust she had placed in him’ and put her at risk of unwanted pregnancy and infections. sexually transmitted. He also said that a broad interpretation of the law would be needed to include sexual penetration without a condom in rape laws.
The case — the first stealth conviction in the Netherlands, according to Dutch media — is part of a growing global awareness of the nuances of consent. Experts say that although the term stealth is not widely known, the experience is relatively common, with surveys indicating incidence rates ranging from 8-43% of women and 5-19% of men who have sex with men, according to a recent review article that examined data from around the world.
In a 2017 article by Civil rights lawyer Alexandra Brodsky who pushed the term into mainstream discourse, victims called the act “rape-adjacent” and described it as a violation of bodily autonomy. Still, stealth remains subject to debates over whether to ban it and how to classify it legally.
Efforts have been made to legally punish perpetrators of infiltration in several countries, including Singapore, Switzerland, Canada and parts of Australia – but the offense is not included in the criminal code of the Netherlands, where around 3% of people experience physical sexual violence per year, according to a 2020 report from Statistics Netherlands.
In the United States, federal legislation that would have allowed victims to seek compensation for stealth theft was introduced in the House last spring, but failed to pass the committee. States such as New York and Wisconsin have attempted to pass legislation that would punish stealth, but so far only California has done so. In 2021, the state expanded its sexual violence laws to include what is also known as non-consensual condom removal, or NCCR, and to allow victims to sue for civil damages.
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Kelly Cue Davis, a clinical psychologist and professor at Arizona State University who has studied stealth, said the decision in the Dutch case reflects the complexity of the act.
“What we see unfolding in this particular court case is what many people who have experienced stealth have faced,” she said, noting that many victims don’t know what to think. of their experience. “The person who is camouflaged agrees to have sex, but they agree to have it in this particular way. And then that’s not how it happens.
There’s also “a lot of confusion because people don’t know what to call it. People have never heard of it before. They just know it hurts,” she said.
This confusion and the deceptive nature of the act makes stealth particularly underreported, Davis said. Some victims don’t know they’ve been robbed until their partner tells them they find out they’re pregnant or have a sexually transmitted infection — or, potentially, never.
“Obviously it’s really problematic in terms of being able to call in law enforcement for help, but also being able to get any kind of health care that’s needed in a timely manner,” she said.
Tuesday’s sentencing was largely based on WhatsApp messages between Khaldoun and the victim, during which she asked him if he had a sexually transmitted disease and worried that he was removing the condom, to which he said. claimed he thought she “felt it”.
In another case, a 25-year-old man was acquitted because the Dutch court was “unconvinced” that the defendant had made a “conscious choice” to remove the condom without his partner’s knowledge.
Amar Nadhir contributed to this report.