CommentHealth & Wellbeing

The Slip Off: Stealthing is a thing and Newcastle should be concerned.

Sexual health and awareness is nothing to joke around about, especially for Novocastrians. Sophie Austin talks about stealthing and why it’s an issue we should all know about.

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault

Here’s a few things you might not have thought of when you woke up this morning:

  1. Thousands of Australian youth are living with sexually transmitted diseases without knowing.
  2. Over the last five years, over 600 incidents of rape have been reported from Australian university students.
  3. Stealthing is real, and people are doing it.

The most recent episode of Triple J’s Hack has brought our attention to the issue of stealthing; the act of a male taking off a condom without the sexual partner’s knowledge during intercourse.

This is the new face of non-consensual sex, STIs and accidental pregnancy.

Stephanie Brookman, Associate Director of Student Care and Equity at UON, said ethical sexual behaviour requires a basis of “trust and honesty” – something stealthing violates.

“This is an unethical practice that prevents the freedom of choice and the rights of an individual when there has been agreed or assumed protection to practice safe sex,” she said.

This form of deceit is nothing new, but there’s now a name for it. Listeners of Hack had plenty more names for stealthing too, like “disgusting”, “violating” and constituting rape culture.

Despite the risks that come with unprotected sex, especially when not disclosed, legal backing for stealthing is still in a grey area. While sex without consent is an offense, stealthing remains on rocky grounds when it comes to prosecution.

But as Dr Bianca Fileborn, UNSW criminology lecturer, told Triple J this week, “Just because something doesn’t meet that criminal threshold for rape, it doesn’t mean it’s suddenly okay.”

This call to attention couldn’t come at a more alarming time for Novocastrians. A decade ago there were almost 3000 recorded cases of Chlamydia in the Hunter region and the numbers were set to rise.

“There is no specific data linking stealthing to increased STI transmission,” Brookman said. “But there is always an increased risk of transmission whenever there is an exchange of body fluids and also of unintended pregnancy in male/female relationships.”

Sexual health is not a matter of “their body, their problem”. Stealthing promotes a dangerous mentality that Newcastle should be responding to with speed and force.

If you would like to talk to someone concerning the topics discussed in this feature, you can contact UON’s counselling services here.  If you would like more information on sexual health and wellbeing, visit UON’s Sexual Health page.

Feature image: Brandon Greer via Flickr, no changes made

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