By Ellson Quismorio
Avoiding the use of a condom despite assuring your partner that you will wear one during consensual sex could soon become a criminal offense in the Philippines.
AKO-Bicol Party-List Rep. Alfredo Garbin and Elizaldy Co filed House Bill (HB) no.3957, which classifies the act of “stealthing” as sexual assault or rape.
“Stealthing” refers to the act of covertly removing a condom during sexual intercourse, when the sex partner has only consented to condom-protected sex.
Garbin said the bill also enumerates two other situations of stealthing, which are: tampering with or damaging the condom or other protective device without the consent of the sex partner; and making the partner believe a condom will be used to gain consent to engaging in sex, but a condom was not used.
He said HB 3957 further refines the description of how sexual assault is carried out because stealthing is not expressly stated in the Revised Penal Code or in Republic Act (RA) 8353 (The Anti-Rape Law of 1997).
“We also deliberately used the word ‘sexual partner’ to refer to the victim, so that even if the victim is not a woman, the victim can avail of protection and remedies provided by the law on rape and sexual assault,” Garbin explained.
“We also defined in HB 3957 what sexual activity is, so that the definition of sexual assault would be strengthened with a definition which uses the gender-inclusive word ‘sexual partner.’ In RA 8393, the word ‘other person’ is used to refer to the victim of the male offender,” the lawyer-solon added.
Garbin said using “sexual partner” in HB 3957 will enable any person of any sexual orientation, gender identification or expression to file charges of sexual assault against the male who “violated them.”
“The more inclusive term of ‘protective device’ is used more often in HB 3957 so that if there are other protective devices other than the condom, then those will also be covered in the bill,” he further said.
“With this bill, even children, teenagers, and seniors of any gender who are victims of sexual assault through stealthing may bring their offenders to face the police, prosecutors, and judges,” the Minority Bloc congressman noted.
Garbin hopes the “deterrent effect of HB 3957 when it becomes law, will lead to fewer cases of sexual assault involving sexually-transmitted diseases and help in the war against HIV-AIDS.”