Before the Oct. 10 deadline to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several sexual assault bills into law.
They include Assembly Bill (AB) 453, AB 1171, AB 939 and Senate Bill (SB) 215.
AB 453, authored by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D- Bell Gardens), makes the act of non-consensually removing a condom, also known as “stealthing”, illegal.
Under this new law, stealthing would be considered a form of sexual battery. However, it does not criminalize it.
“We have stepped up in a major way in California & I hope other state legislatures follow suit,” tweeted Garcia. “But more importantly, I hope people will build on this & continue engaging in discussion around the continuum of consent.”
The governor’s office tweeted about the bill’s passing and what kind of legal actions can be taken given that it is still not technically a criminal act.
“With @AsmGarcia’s #AB453 signed, victims of stealthing will be able to take civil action against their perpetrators. By passing this bill, we are underlining the importance of consent,” read the tweet.
AB 1171, also authored by Garcia, will remove the distinction between rape and “spousal rape” in California law.
Before AB 1171 was signed into law, California was one of only nine states that still included the distinction between rape and spousal rape.
“Rape is Rape, & this bill makes it clear that a marriage license doesn’t change that. No more asking victims if they are married or not. TY to all the advocates who worked on getting this bill to @CAgovernor & pushing to get it signed,” Garcia tweeted.
SB 215, co-authored by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), will allow survivors of sexual assault to track and receive information regarding their sexual assault evidence kit.
Tracking will take place through a new online portal that allows survivors to access the SAFE-T database.
“As the author of SB 215, I am so proud that we are once again prioritizing and empowering rape survivors by making sure that they able to easily and privately find out where their rape kit is in the process,” Leyva said.
“A rape kit exam is invasive and retraumatizing, so survivors should absolutely be able to track their rape kit every step of the way. I would like to thank our amazing coalition of sponsors—District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Joyful Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project—and supporters for testifying, Tweeting, writing and speaking out about the critical need for this legislation. With today’s signature by Governor Newsom, SB 215 will help to empower survivors, hold rapists accountable and strengthen public safety across California,” she continued.
AB 939 bans a survivor’s clothing from being used as evidence of consent in a sexual assault case.
The bill, also known as the Denim Day Act of 2021, is named for a day recognized during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. Denim Day focuses on amplifying the message that manner of dress does not equate to consent.
“I want to thank my legislative colleagues for their support on this important measure. AB 939 makes it clear that an outfit never provides consent, ever. To even consider whether a survivor’s manner of dress should be admitted as evidence of consent wrongly scrutinizes the actions of the survivor, instead of placing that scrutiny where it truly belongs — on the actions of the perpetrator,” said Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona).
“Sexual assault is the most underreported and under-prosecuted type of crime. We must ensure that survivors are not subjected to a justice system that re-victimizes and re-traumatizes them and that our justice system protects them when they seek justice,” she added.