CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses sexual assault.

Activist Chanel Contos has called for Australia to introduce consistent laws around stealthing.

Stealthing is the truly fucked practise of someone removing a condom without their partner’s knowledge or consent during sex.

It’s been illegal in the ACT since October of 2021. Tasmania also introduced new laws around stealthing in May of 2022.

Victoria plans to overhaul its laws around sexual assault, including explicitly criminalising stealthing while South Australia has also looked at making it illegal.

But in other jurisdictions, it isn’t explicitly criminalised.

Contos, who’s the director of the Australia Institue’s Centre for Sex and Gender Equality, told 9Honey that she thought consistent laws around stealthing could work as an educational tool.

“Legislation is a really powerful tool for sexual education and that’s what we’re using it for. We’re not using it because we want to increase convictions,” she said.

According to Contos, criminalising stealthing consistently would help set a “clear social standard of what’s acceptable behaviour and what’s not”.

“Currently there’s a misunderstanding that the act, which is objectively a sexual assault, is acceptable behaviour, so we need to change that,” she explained. 

Earlier this week, Contos convened a round table with Attorneys-Generals and Shadow Attorneys-Generals from across the country to talk about the issue. The round table also heard from a number of people who have been victims of stealthing.

The stats are also pretty shocking, with a 2018 Aussie study finding one in three women and one in five men have experienced stealthing before.

One of the people speaking at the round table was Elizabeth Lee, the ACT’s Opposition Leader. She introduced the territory’s stealthing bill.

“I am incredibly proud that the ACT has passed nation-leading laws to specifically to criminalise stealthing,” she said. 

“Stealthing is a traumatic thing for anyone to go through; it is a gross breach of trust during an incredibly vulnerable time and can have massive physical, psychological, and emotionally impacts.” 

While speaking to 9Honey, Contos shared some more info about what she hopes consistent laws would achieve.

“We’re not trying to update the law so that it can help women in the courtroom,” she said.

“We’re trying to update the law so it protects women before it happens.”

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

Image: Getty Images / NurPhoto / Contributor / Instagram / @chanelc