Justice minister takes first step towards criminalising ‘stealthing’
Anyone who’s seen the acclaimed HBO series ‘I May Destroy You’ knows what stealthing is. It’s when somebody, normally a man, removes a condom during intercourse without informing their sexual partner.
Widely considered to be a form of sexual assault, there’s no legislation prohibiting the practice in Denmark – to widespread dismay from the likes of Sex og Samfund and Everyday Sexism Project Denmark, who have been steadily campaigning for its criminalisation.
But finally, it looks like the hard work is paying off, as the justice minister, Peter Hummelgaard, has said he intends to tale action.
Already illegal in many countries
A recent report issued by Columbia University concludes that victims of stealthing suffer the same kind of psychological harm as people exposed to other forms of sexual assault, such as rape.
It is good news for victims like 28-year-old Stephanie Sørensen, who was brave enough to share her experience with TV2.
“I hadn’t even considered that he could do it. It’s so uncomfortable and obnoxious that someone is willing to overstep these boundaries and show so little respect. Especially when you’re doing something so intimate,” she recalled.
The UK, Australia and New Zealand all have laws protecting people from stealthing, but nothing exists in Denmark. So when victims report the act to the police, they are surprised to learn there is nothing they can do.
Could be a lengthy process to introduce law
Hummelgaard has confirmed it will now be investigated: the problem itself and how severely perpetrators should be punished.
“Now we, here at the ministry, will try to get an overview of the problem, gather the necessary experience and then convene a meeting of the parties in Parliament about it in the foreseeable future,” he promised.
However, a law professor warns it will be no formality.
“You have to make sure you formulate the penalty provision in such a way that it hits exactly what you want to punish, and that you also make sure you formulate it in a way that it will also be possible to prove in practice,” Professor Trine Baumbach told DR.