Wednesday 20 October 2021

“Stealthing” could land you up to 12 years in jail in Costa Rica

An initiative that could soon be before the legislative plenary would punish non-consensual condom removal during sexual intercourse

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QCOSTARICA – Removing the condom without the consent of the partner, in the sexual act, could be classified as a crime in Costa Rica with penalties from 6 to 12 years in prison. The greater penalty would apply if the practice results in pregnancy or is carried out against a minor, for example.

An initiative that could soon be before the legislative plenary would punish with up to 12 years in prison for non-consensual condom removal during sexual intercourse

Legislators of the Legal Affairs Committee (Comisión de Asuntos Jurídicos) are expected to rule today, Tuesday, October 12, on initiative 21,513 that penalizes non-consensual condom removal or “stealthing”, as this practice is known.

In case of moving forward in Committee, the bill would go to the Plenary for discussion and debate.

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The initiative, presented by independent legislator Paola Vega, qualifies the practice as a crime in article 158 of the Penal Code.

“Anyone who removes or damages a condom or other prophylactic method without the express consent of all the parties involved during a sexual relationship, in the act of oral, anal or vaginal access, will be punished with a prison sentence of 6 to 10 years,” says the initiative

However, the penalties will go up from 8 to 12 years, if there are the following aggravations: pregnancy, the spread of a disease, as well as the fact that a minor is involved or serious psychological damage is caused.

Vega explained that the initiative was consulted and improved since its introduction in September 2019. The most important modification was the years of grief; the basic text intended that only the practice, without the aggravating factors, be punished with prison sentences of nine to 12 years in prison.

However, following the recommendations of the judicial authorities, as well as the Instituto Nacional de la Mujer (Inamu) – National Institute for Women,  a consensus text was achieved to lower the sanction. Vega announced that there are still reservations with the penalty, but there is an agreement of the deputies of the Committee so that these changes are analyzed with amendments that can be made from the legislative plenary.

From her account on social networks, the legislator of the Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC), Carolina Hidalgo, made public her support for the bill.

Paola Vega, independent legislator and proponent of the “stealthing” initiative in Costa Rica

Rape (Violación sexual)?

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Currently, “stealthing”, regardless of its consequence, is not punished in the country, which motivated Vega to present the initiative.

Initially, the legislator tried to include this practice as a rape (violación sexual in Spanish), but after the process of consultation with the authorities, she reconsidered “non-consensual condom removal.”

“The withdrawal of the condom without consent during a penetrative sexual encounter exposes the victims to serious risks of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, in addition to causing psychological and moral damage with this violation of autonomy and dignity,” says the legislator.

Vega clarified that this text does not discriminate gender, but applies to both male and female condoms. In addition, she mentions that the removal of “other prophylactic methods” would also be penalized so that the judges have open the possibility of interpretation.

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Although in Costa Rica it would be a novelty among criminal offenses, Vega pointed out that in European countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, as of 2020.

Impact and risks

The removal or damaging a condom during sex increases the risks of potential sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS, or unwanted pregnancies. Victims may feel betrayal and many victims see it as a “grave violation of dignity and autonomy”. Many may also experience emotional and psychological distress, especially those who have experienced sexual violence in the past

 

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