Guest post: Ari Haque, from BANG Undercover, the campaign to get everyone better at talking about sex and communicating.
Apparently, half of single people use internet dating platforms to meet people. There was a time, in my adult past when I remember that online dating was a 'bit weird' - but then along came Tinder and online dating had its 'Uber moment'. I remember vividly the first time that I used an online dating app that I found it so efficient and effective for meeting people that I described it as 'like Uber for sex', in fact.
My enthusiasm for online dating has now waned a little - but my interest in sex that's safe, healthy and consensual has not. That's why I created BANG undercover, a project to raise awareness that stealthing (non-consensual condom removal) is a crime and to get everyone better at talking about sex and communicating.
Stealthing is rape in the UK. As leading lawyer, Sandra Paul, says, as with all cases of rape that depends on the facts and the evidence. The law is not concerned with what the act is called when it comes to offences of rape. The law simply asks 3 questions: 1. Did A use his penis to penetrate B’s mouth, anus or vagina? If so 2. Did B consent? If no; 3. Did A reasonably believe that B consented?
By the time you get to question 3, if the answer is no, then the offence is complete. If A and B agree to use a condom, or B agrees so long as a condom is used, and A deliberately removes the condom and does not tell B, it is hard to see how A can continue to have consent.
B’s consent, in this scenario, is contingent on a condom being used. Further, if there is evidence to show that A was aware that a condition of the penetration was that a condom is used and he not only takes it off (deliberately and without good reason) but goes further and does not tell B about it as soon as it becomes apparent, it is difficult see how A can reasonably believe he has consent. If there is no consent to the penetration and he does not reasonably believe he has consent, that’s the definition of rape.
Two survivors of the crime told me how the perpetrators were those they met on dating websites. They described, powerfully, the vulnerability and confusion that they felt at having consented to sex initially, but not to the removal of the condom. They also described how they were unsure of the status of what had happened - they didn't realise it was a crime.
This is what BANG undercover is seeking to change. Using digital media and militant postering, we want to get the word out that it happens and that's a crime.
If this has happened to you, Bang Undercover would like you to share your story with them. They aim to amplify the voices of survivors but won't share any details without your express consent first.