MADISON, Wis - A state lawmaker is receiving backlash on social media for a new bill she is proposing if passed the legislation would make something known as "stealthing" a sexual assault.
The word stealthing refers to the action of removing a condom during sex without consent. The act would be classified as sexual assault under a bill being introduced by state Rep. Melissa Sargeant, D-Madison.
"I'm trying to stand up for people that have been violated in a very personal way. It is clearly sexual assault and we need to call it was it is." Sargent said.
Under the legislation, if a partner, man or woman removes or tampers with a sexually protective device before or during sex without consent, the act would be classified as a sexual assault. She is already receiving backlash and personal attacks from the idea on social media.
"To say that because I'm standing up for victims' rights it must mean that I'm not getting enough or that I deserve to be sexually assaulted that's not how we continue to move our community forward," she said.
A website uncovered from a recent report on "stealthing" form the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law discovered men promoting the idea and teaching people how to do it. In the report, women who admitted to being victims of "stealthing" became unintentionally pregnant and contracted sexually transmitted infections
Sexual protective devices covered under the bill include "a male or female condom, dental dam, spermicide, contraceptive sponge, diaphragm, cervical cap, or any other physical device intended to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection."
The bill directly deals with physical contact. It would not cover a situation where a woman lied about taking birth control.
Erin Thornley-Parisi, executive director of the Dane County Rape Crisis Center, says the deception is what makes it assault
"The terms are changed and it now becomes something that is nonconsensual, then it does become sexual assault," she said.
Parisi said she supports the ideas behind the proposal but has some concerns on the effects of the bill.
"Anytime you have something that is good for women, there will be people that will use it against women," she said.
Parisi encourages anyone who may have questions on how they can be protected or if they have been a victim of steathing to call the Rape Crisis Center.
The 24-hour English helpline is (608)251-7273. The Spanish hotline is (608) 258-2567.
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