ACT becomes the first jurisdiction to specifically prohibit “theft”

Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee said stealth “violates our bodily autonomy in the most intimate moments.” Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The ACT became the first jurisdiction in the country to ban “theft”.

Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee defended the amendment to the Crimes Act to include a new paragraph expressly stating that intentional misrepresentation regarding condom use is a factor that voids consent.

The amendment received the support of the tripartisans and was adopted unanimously in the Legislative Assembly.

Speaking to the assembly yesterday, Ms Lee said she was “aware of many people who have suffered stealth thefts but were not sure or appalled that our laws did not reflect the community’s sentiment that it is a heinous act which is a crime “.

“Stealing is a terrible thing to do to anyone and we know it has lasting effects on the physical, mental and emotional well-being of victims,” Ms. Lee told the Assembly.

“It violates our bodily autonomy in the most intimate moments, and victims have spoken about the impact it has on their ability to trust people,” she said.

READ ALSO: Disgusted, Scared and Angry: Why Stealth Makes Victims Vulnerable

The bill was supported by Attorney General Shane Rattenbury and Minister for Women Yvette Berry, who placed the amendment within a broader scheme of law reform.

Mr Rattenbury, who said in June that stealth theft was already a crime but that he would do no harm to explicitly ban it, spoke in favor of the amendment yesterday.

“This bill helps to put beyond doubt what we know: the non-consensual withdrawal of the condom during sexual intercourse is rape,” he told the Assembly.

He also said that a broader review of ACT’s sexual offenses laws, including the definition of consent, was already underway as part of the sexual assault prevention and response initiative and the committee. director created by Ms. Berry.

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Further, according to Mr Rattenbury, while “law reform alone will not solve all the work we need to change attitudes, it plays a critical role in clearly defining our expectations as a community about behavior. that we expect and demand ”.

Ms Berry concurred with this sentiment, saying the job was not just to change the law, but also to change attitudes in the community.

She also told the Assembly that she was eager to share the final report of the steering committee, which also considered further consent reform as proposed by Labor MP Marisa Paterson.

Ms Lee previously said the bill received overwhelming support from local and national advocacy groups.

“By specifically banning stealth theft, we are sending a clear message to the community that the law is on their side and that we will not tolerate this behavior,” she said.

If this story has raised any issues, you can contact the Canberra Rape Crisis Center hotline at 6247 2525 between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. for all advice requests, including appointments and referrals.

1800RESPECT, the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counseling service, can be contacted 24/7 at 1800 737 732.

Thelma J. Longworth