Stalking: The Phenomenon, Legal Status and Preventive Measures

July 29th, 201010:51 am @    

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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

Article by

Co-Founder of MightyLaws.in. She is currently pursuing BA.LLB(Hons) from National Law Institute University, Bhopal. She has a strong belief that increasing legal awareness is the key to ensure social justice and simplification of law is the means to achieve it.

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