Suspects on trial for secretly removing condom during sex in Dutch first
Two men from Rotterdam will appear in court on Tuesday on allegations that they removed a condom during sex without the knowledge or consent of their sexual partners. The men, aged 26 and 28, are on trial for rape in two separate cases with separate victims. The act is known in the Netherlands by the English slang word "stealthing." According to spokespersons for the Public Prosecution Service and the court in Dordrecht, such criminal cases have never happened before.
The accusation of rape is because stealthing is not a separate offense in the Dutch criminal code. If someone removes a condom during sex without consent, they have committed a sex crime, experts say. Then it is a case of forced unsafe sex, according to the person who started the website, Stealthing.nl.
Figures for such cases sneakily having sex without a condom are not available, as they fall under the general heading of rape or sex by coercion. "Abroad, people have already been convicted of rape by stealthing. In the Netherlands, the word is not yet widely known," said the creator of the website, who herself was victimized in 2017. Her attempt to file a report and press charges did not lead to a court case. "My first thought was, 'What a jerk, and what a bad date.' But thanks to my GP, I realized that I had been assaulted."
One of the suspects will be represented on Tuesday be attorney Mirjam Levy. "As soon as sex takes place and it is not against someone else's will, then there is no coercion," she said. "If someone finds out afterwards that the conditions have not been met, it does not mean that there is coercion."
"It is easy to say that if the sex was voluntary, then it is not punishable. I also noticed that when I reported it to the police," said the Stealthing.nl website representative. She said she had to be extremely persistent when trying to "explain to a vice detective that my partner in bed had taken off the condom, when I had clearly stated in advance that it would not happen without a condom." If he had asked to have sex without a condom, she emphasized that she would not have agreed. "And then it would have been [coercion or forcible] if he had continued."
Her goal with the website is "to encourage victims, to educate them and make it clear that it is not their fault and that it falls under sexual violence." She tries to accomplish her goal by sharing stories from others and giving advice. "Make sure you are safe and healthy, get checked for STIs and if you have the strength, report it."
Richard Korver, an attorney who represents victims, said he is very curious about what the outcome of the trial will be, even though he is not directly involved in the criminal case. "Sex without a condom without informing the partner can be a form of sexual violence. Then, there has been sex by abusing a circumstance. If the court wants to think creatively, you can classify that under rape, although it would be better to also be charged with menacing. It is permitting something to happen by being deceived about a fact."
Reporting by ANP