A California Governor, Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bipartisan bill that outlaws non-consensual condom removal, known as “stealthing”. The new legislation adds the act to the state’s civil definition of sexual battery, making California the first US state to render stealthing illegal. The law gives victims a clear legal remedy for the assault that Doogan, who now lives in San Francisco, suffered decades ago. And advocates say it marks a sea change for other survivors who, unlike Doogan, might now have their day in court. “We wanted to make sure that it’s not only immoral, but illegal,” said California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia who introduced the bill while speaking to BBC. Garcia has been working on some version of this legislation for years. In 2017 and again in 2018, she introduced a bill that would have made stealthing a criminal offence and allowed prosecutors to seek jail time for perpetrators. These bills either died on the floor or did not get a hearing. This new version, which amends just the civil code, passed in the California legislation with no opposition. Survivors can sue offenders for damages but no criminal charges can be brought forward. “I still think this should be in the penal code,” Garcia told the BBC. “If consent was broken, isn’t that the definition of rape, or sexual assault?” Legislative analysts have said that stealthing could be considered misdemeanour sexual battery, even though it is not explicitly named in the criminal code. But Garcia’s new law removes any ambiguity for civil claims which, experts say, will make it easier for survivors to pursue their cases. “We can start to talk about it in a way where we have a common language,” Garcia said. Garcia said she was inspired to bring the topic of stealthing to the House floor after reading a 2017 Yale Law School research paper by then-student Alexandra Brodsky – who is now widely credited with bringing the term into popular use. Brodsky, who now works as a civil rights lawyer and is the author of Sexual Justice – which looks at how to respond fairly to sexual assault – detailed a number of stories in her paper from survivors in the context of otherwise consensual romantic or sexual relationships. Their accounts often started the same way, Brodsky wrote. “I’m not sure this is rape but…” They detailed their fear of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, as well as intense feelings of violation and betrayal. But the survivors Brodsky spoke to – many of whom reported being raped previously – did not describe stealthing as equivalent to sexual assault. People weren’t making that connection yet, Brodsky said. “I think a big part of the problem was that a lot of people thought they were the only person this had happened to,” she said. But research shows stealthing is “depressingly common”, according to analysis from California’s Senate judiciary committee in assessing Garcia’s bill. A 2019 paper published in the National Library of Medicine found that 12% of women ages 21 to 30 reported experience with stealthing. If I may ask; Can this law be enacted in Nigeria?