Stalking: The Phenomenon, Legal Status and Preventive Measures

Stalking is a phenomenon which could turn out to be a frightening experience for any  women. It is common to hear mothers tutoring their young daughters to be wary of strangers who might trail them. Young working women who stay alone in metro cities prove to be soft targets and are prone to be stalked. Even older woman encounter such behavior while walking/jogging or even shopping. Girls pursuing their University education may even be stalked by a fellow student. A women belonging to any age group is susceptible to it. It has been seen in many cases that before committing a sexual offense or launching a physical attack the criminal stalks the victim. Also, the stalker might fling acid on the face of the victim to take revenge of some sort.

Stalking as explained by Wikipedia-

Stalking can be defined as the willful and repeated following, watching, and / or harassing of another person. Most of the time, the purpose of stalking is to attempt to force a relationship with someone who is unwilling or otherwise unavailable. Unlike other crimes, which usually involve one act, stalking is a series of actions that occur over a period of time. Although stalking is illegal, the actions those contribute to stalking are usually legal, such as gathering information, calling someone on the phone, sending gifts, emailing or instant messaging. Such actions by themselves are not usually abusive, but can become abusive when frequently repeated over time.


Types of Stalkers and factors motivating them-

A nuance understanding of the phenomenon will help us to deal with it effectively, So we must know what might motivate a stalker. In the Book- ‘Stalkers and their victims’, Paul E. Mullen has categorized stalkers into five categories on the basis of their psychology-

1. Rejected stalkers- They pursue their victims to avenge a rejection in relationship (It could be a break-up, divorce etc). They might even stalk in hopes of mending the relation.

2. Resentful stalker- They stalk because they carry a sense of grievance against the victim. They might wish only to terrify or frighten. It gives them a pleasure to see victim in distress.

3. Intimacy seekers- They seek to initiate an intimate relationship with the victim. They perceive the victim to be the soul mate and assume that they both are meant to be together forever.

4. Incompetent suitors- They have poor social or courting skills but feel entitled to have an intimate relation with a particular person. It can also be understood as a case of “fixation” with a person who holds their amorous interest.

5. Predatory stalkers- They spy on the victim to ascertain their routine activities so that an attack could be planned accordingly. The attack is usually sexual in nature.

Position of Law Relating to Stalking in India

You might be surprised to know, but there is no separate penal provision for the nuisance of stalking in India. Even if the police have to record an FIR, they file it under sections covering obscenity, outraging modesty of a woman or criminal intimidation, depending on the acts of the stalker.It is a grave danger which is being faced by women today and there is dire need of anti stalking laws in India.

The bill against Sexual Harassment which provides for strong punishments for sexual harassment (this must be seen in the light of Ruchika Girhotra molestation case. The legislation also seeks to pacify the media and the nationwide uproar generated by insufficient punishment to SP Rathore). The bill is yet to be approved by the legislature. Various organizations working for women rights had demanded the inclusion of stalking in the bill, but the government doesn’t seem to be in a mood to do so.
Such omissions on the part of the Government should be taken very seriously. Media must assume its social responsibility now and convey the voice of thousands of stalking victims to the unbothered legislature. In countries like U.S.A the laws relating to stalking are pretty stringent. Severe punishments are prescribed for those who indulge in such despicable behavior. It is high time for India now to incorporate proper preventive law declaring stalking to be a criminal offense, to safeguard and protect  the dignity and well being of women.

But there is welcome news for women residing in Delhi! Delhi Police has buckled up itself against the menace of stalking by a starting a Helpline. The capital through the years has gained the reputation of being highly unsafe city. The crime rates are shooting high as never before. Especially crimes against women have increased manifold.
Any woman who has a reason to believe that she is being stalked can call this number to seek help. The number to the helpline is 1096. One may also call 27894455 or send a fax to 27292523 Messages can be sent to 9911135446 or email to acp-sit-dl@nic.in.

How to protect yourself from Stalkers? / Preventive Measures:

The following are some of the preventive measures which can be taken to avoid stalkers:
1. Never overlook the fact that someone is paying you unwanted attention. Stalking often emanates from minor encounters. Do not respond to such attention.

2. If you are aware of the fact that the person seeks to establish some kind of relationship then be firm when you give him your “no”. Mixed messages/indications have never done anybody any good.

3. Threat of any kind should not be taken lightly. If threatened even in a slightest manner, contact the police.

4. If you see any suspicious characters around your neighborhood then don’t hesitate to make your neighbors aware of such undesired presence so that proper steps could be taken.

5. Do not go for walking/ jogging alone. It is better to have company you can count on. .

6. Always carry a mobile phone whenever you step out your household.

7. Keep your private information confidential. Ask people associated to you not to let out such information.

8. Carrying pepper spray or Chili powder in your bag also helps. If the stalker tries to pounce upon you then use powder/spray targeting his eyes, It will provide you the opportunity to escape.

Picture credit: only-peppersprayblog.com

By Nikita Anand on July 29, 2010 · Posted in Informative, Law and Women

5 Comments | Post Comment

Basant | Techno-Pulse says:

I've heard of many instances of stalking and it seems it's a growing menace in the 'urban jungle'. But the statistics may not support this fact as most of the incidents go unreported.

Posted on July 29th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Yes, You are right Basant. Stalking only comes to light when it results in grave consequences like sexual harassment and physical injury. Proper reporting of stalking might prompt our legislature to formulate a penal provision. But Again it becomes a dilemma for the police because there is no section in IPC under which they could file a case!

Posted on July 29th, 2010

Samarth says:

Hi Nikita… please look into Sections 298 A & B, 292, 354, 509 and a few others you might find useful… :)

Posted on June 12th, 2012

Nikita Anand says:

Thanks for the input Samarth! :)

Posted on July 5th, 2012

Mathews C V says:

Stalking not only being carried out on women only. Women also employ people with the assistance of their community members in order to stalk down men and sully their image in public. I am a victim of such predatory stalking by a group people and such activities against me has been going on for the last 3 years.A group of people, on the behest of a women and man who had a grudge against me follow me wherever I go and spread rumors and blatant lies about me in the workplace and in the immediate it neighborhood and incite public to turn their ire against me. They use flash mobbing method by sending my photos and messages to the people to keep a watch over me on 24/7 basis while i travel by bus or train wherever inside India. Their idea is to turn mob against me and to finish me off either physically or emotionally. I appeal to the government to amend laws suitably in order punish such miscreants who are hellbent on destroying the innocent victims using such predatory tactics.

Posted on March 22nd, 2013