The last time I discussed rape with an African audience was during the infamous Kwesi Kyei Darkwah (KKD) alleged rape saga—and the misunderstanding at the time with majority of my audience was that, unless a woman shouts or fights a male sexual predator, what seems like a smooth sexual intercourse can never be raped.
Beyond the legal difficulty of drunkard consent and the other complexities, it’s well established in law that unless consent is undoubtedly given, having sex with a woman is rape. There’s no legal requirement for the woman to scream, fight or shout. The question remains; was consent freely given?
Outside the box of what we can term as “conventional rape” is a new form of rape, which is rapidly catching attention and which is a subtle form of rape–but undeniably violates the dignity of victims with no less emotional consequence than “conventional rape”.
Since a lot of people struggle to agree with what amounts to rape in its raw conventional sense of a man having sex with a woman without consent, I can clearly see what these people will make of this new form of rape, which on the face of it seems nothing more than a mere act of dishonesty.
The new increasing form of rape, which has been given a name to aid with conversations such as this and to help define the borders is called; ‘Stealthing.’
According to a recent publication in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, ‘Stealthing,’ the disturbing consensual bedroom abuse technique is on a rise.
The lead author of the paper, Alexandra Brodsky said, “stealthing,” broadly captures the practice where a man secretly removes his condom during sex, unknown to the woman and continues with the sex. He argues that this amounts to grave sexual assault and should be treated as such.
“One of my goals with the article, and in proposing a new statute, is to provide a vocabulary and create ways for people to talk about what is a really common experience that just is too often dismissed as just ‘bad sex’ instead of ‘violence,’” Brodsky told the Huffington Post.
The NY Post reported that what’s “even more troubling is the online community Brodsky uncovered, where men encourage other men to “stealth” their partners. These perpetrators — both gay and straight — believe it’s a man’s right to spread one’s seed.”
Interestingly, a Swiss court convicted a man of rape in January on the back of charges that he took off his condom without telling his partner during sex. The court came to the conclusion that, the woman would have said no to sex if she knew of the condom removal—hence, the man’s action was certainly rape.
This may sound strange but when it comes to sex, this sort of dishonesty that violates the dignity of others does not fall within the box of mere deception, it’s vicious as the consequence can be dangerous.
Brodsky’s research shared how several men and women who have been victims of the act had experienced “deeply felt feeling of violation”. Beside this, stealthing “leaves a victim vulnerable to pregnancy or STIs, and can cause emotional, physical and financial harm.”
I spoke to seven Ghanaian friends about stealthing before writing this piece and interestingly, all of them except one considered it as just being “smart” during sex–claiming, that’s never rape or any form of sexual assault.
Osei said; “every Ghanaian guy I know must have done this at least once. How can this be rape when all you do is to remove the condom to have a proper feel of the woman?”
In patriarchal societies like those we have in Africa where a large number of the population are uneducated, getting people to understand that even when a woman grants consent, she reserves the right to abruptly redraw consent during sex is complex and difficult enough–let alone telling these men who have this long-standing mindset of entitlement that, removing a condom during a consented sex is rape.