A recently criminalised form of sexual assault might impact women who aren't even aware they have been assaulted.
Stealthing is the act of removing a condom during sex without consent and has been made illegal in Tasmania in May 2022 after an bill was passed in 2021.
Tasmania and ACT remain the only two states or territories in Australia to have made stealthing illegal.
Family Planning Tasmania spokesperson Molly Frankham said this speaks to a wider issue of understanding consent.
"There are three elements to consent - that it's legal, it's freely entered into without coercion and that it's affirmative and can be revoked at any time," she said.
"When someone consents to sex, and they're consenting to sex with a condom, if the condom is taken off without their knowledge, it negates the consent."
She said while acts like this may not necessarily be new, stealthing was currently trending.
Following in the foot steps of ACT, the Tasmanian Government passed the Family Violence Reforms Bill 2021.
The changes were required to clarify that it is a crime to remove a condom without consent during sex aka stealthing.
Women's Legal Service Tasmania chief officer Yvette Cehtel said like other forms of sexual assault, it's hard to prosecute the act of stealthing.
"There has been no precedent in Tasmania where stealthing has been successfully prosecuted using the existing consent definition in the Criminal Code," she said.
"The changes are aimed at stopping this behaviour. It is important that we all understand this practice is illegal. The educative value of the offence must also not be underestimated."
The act of stealthing can have serious consequences for the victim-survivors, according to Ms Cehtel and Ms Frankham.
"The person wearing the condom makes their own decision unilaterally to remove the condom during the sexual activity," Ms Yvette said.
"Not only does this expose women to the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection, it is also a violation of their bodily autonomy."
Ms Frankham said what furthers the issue was the most common sexually transmitted infections are asymptomatic and needed to be treated early.
"The most prevalent STIs in Australia at the moment are chlamydia and syphilis - they can often be asymptomatic," she said.
"So a person could be carrying the disease and not be aware of it and unwillingly infecting their sexual partner because they're asymptomatic and they're not getting regular STI screenings."
Furthermore was the violation of bodily integrity and the effects that had on victim-survivors.
"On an emotional front the effects can be quite traumatising for the victim as any form of sexual violence can be quite traumatising and have a detrimental effect on their emotional health and mental health," Ms Frankham said.
There is also the risk of a woman falling pregnant should a condom be removed without her knowledge.
Ms Frankham said at Family Planning Tasmania, they are anecdotally hearing more women feeling pressure to have sex without a condom, which highlights the need for consent education.
"Consent education in schools from an early age is key to teach boys how serious things like stealthing are and the impacts that it can have," she said.
"To empower women is for them to understand that under the Tasmanian criminal code stealthing is illegal and they don't have to put up with something that makes them feel uncomfortable."
Ms Frankman said there had been a federal move to incorporate consent education into the Australian curriculum.
Laurel House chief officer Kathryn Fordyce said there was a lot to be done when it came to consent education.
"Sex education is not just a single day or a single lesson a year," she said.
Ms Fordyce said consent does not need to be sexual when teaching it to young children.
"It's checking if someone is ok before we do something. It empowers people to say no," she said.
Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Adrian Bodnar said police take all reports of sexual assault extremely seriously.
"The new crime of stealthing is not yet law, however when the legislation is proclaimed, reports of stealthing will be managed sensitively with victim-survivors, as is the case with current sexual assault matters," he said.
To share your story on this topic, contact email@example.com
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.