Cutting Holes in Condoms: Sabotage Legalities
When considering sexual assault, it’s common to think only of stranger raping a woman in some secluded location or someone molesting a child. However, there is much more to sexual assault than just scenarios like these.
You’ve probably heard stories of women who lied about taking contraceptives to get pregnant. There is actually a term for it. It is called birth control sabotage. However, what you probably did not know is that the same legalities apply to poking holes in condoms. Basically, we are speaking of the same intention, just a different method.
Sexual vs. Reproductive Coercion
Contraceptive sabotage is a type of sexual assault. Not sexual coercion, since the partners have relations willingly. Still, forcing a partner into having unprotected sex without their knowledge is certainly illegal, and not only because the woman can become pregnant without knowing it. In addition to staying pregnant, i.e. reproductive coercion, contraceptive sabotage puts the other person at risk of a sexually transmitted disease.
Is It a Crime?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this is actually a crime. In the U.S. News and World Report, experts group birth control sabotage in a category of violence against the woman. In addition, they assert that this problem is very under-recognized.
The definition of reproductive coercion does not include only poking holes in condoms. Experts speak of instances where women are forced to have unprotected sex or are limited in terms of reproductive choices by their partner.
Still, being as valid as it is, the term ‘reproductive coercion’ is not really fitting to what the law says. From a law’s point of view, this action has a completely different definition.
If you ask a medical professional, they will define sabotaging as violence. Knowing this, you would think that the law considers this an assault, same as sexual coercion. However, you’d be surprised to hear that the law has a different perspective.
Clearly, forcing someone to have sex comes under the rape laws. But, when it comes to sabotaging birth control, victims of this may make a personal injury claim if exposed to a sexually transmitted disease in the process, or report fraud if they became pregnant without consent.
This does not mean that the law doesn’t protect victims of violence. The only reason why this is the case is because sabotaging birth control during consented sex cannot be put in the same category as raping someone. It is simply unfair.
In some cases of reported sabotage, women have received compensation. In others, the law went further and imprisoned the man who poked the holes for a period of approximately 18 months. Therefore, victims of this crime can certainly seek protection under the law.
The Story of Craig Jaret Hutchinson
Have you heard of Craig Hutchinson? This is a 42-year-old man from Canada who actually got prison time because he poked holes in a pack of condoms. Once he got his girlfriend pregnant without her knowledge of his actions, Hutchinson admitted what he did.
This happened after Hutchinson and his girlfriend broke up. They struggled because of the unplanned child, which of course he actually planned. When they split, the man called his ex and admitted what he did. According to her report, he told her that she might contract a sexually transmitted disease if she were to use the pack of condoms with another partner.
The girl did not only schedule an abortion, but she actually called the police. In court, the defendant was found not guilty of aggravated sexual assault, since the life of the victim was not put at risk. According to her lawyer, her life was put at risk since she had to go through an abortion, which later turned into two weeks of painful complications. In addition to this, the victim had to deal with mental, physical and emotional trauma, as well as endure the beginning stage of pregnancy.
However, this did not end here. After two years, Hutchinson was called to yet another trial where he was found not guilty for an assault, but the court agreed that he would actually serve an 18-month jail sentence because he impregnated the victim without her consent.
Contraceptive Sabotage: Victims and Solutions
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, millions of women are victims of contraceptive sabotage. In addition to poking holes in condoms, contraceptive sabotage includes switching birth control pills with vitamins or inactive pills, and hiding contraceptives.
This can happen to every woman, but some age groups are especially vulnerable. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common victims are teenagers. The most common form of sabotage reported by teenagers is actually poking holes in condoms, as well as discarding a condom in the middle of the intercourse without the victim knowing about it.
In order to provide women with a solution and help, experts recommend that all gynecologists speak to their patients during routine exams. Healthcare providers should incorporate such questions in the already existent screening for sexual abuse, as well as educate patients about such issues and their rights.
At this point, healthcare providers have developed some ways to help victims of reproductive coercion. In a case where a woman is unwilling or unable to leave such partners, a gynecologist may insert an intrauterine device that cannot be felt. This can be achieved by cutting the strings short. However, it is the last alternative that is implemented if the woman does not accept to leave her abusive partner. Of course, this applies in cases where the husband or boyfriend is hostile to the entire idea of birth control, and the woman wants to control her fertility.
According to the National Institutes of Health, gynecologists and obstetricians should help patients understand that birth control sabotage is actually a form of abuse, as well as inform them of the actions they can take. This information should be given at regular checkups and visits for preventative care such as Pap smears.