On Apr 14, a woman was stabbed to death by a man believed to be her boyfriend. Although she had made numerous police reports about stalking incidents, including break-ins by the man, the most recent one being a month before her murder, absolutely nothing was done to protect her.
“If stalking was a crime, the man would have been arrested; and the police would have helped the victim get a protection order. This could have saved her life, ” says Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) in a recent statement.
WAO is urging the government to uphold their commitment to make stalking a crime.
“We call on Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Rina Harun, Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, and the Prime Minister’s Office to take the fatal and traumatic experiences victims of stalking, seriously, ” the statement said.
This is not an isolated incident.
In Sept 2020, a pregnant woman in Perak was molested by her stalker, who rented a home in the same neighbourhood.
In 2018, Devi Surdarsani was followed by two strangers for three hours after buying a drink at KK Mart. Despite informing the police, nothing much was done as there was no physical contact.
In 2017, a man shot his ex-wife in broad daylight at her workplace, in a murder-suicide incident. The victim had changed jobs to protect herself against her stalker ex-husband.
“The system has consistently failed women with its lack of protective measures against stalking. It is a grave concern that many women are reluctant to report stalking incidences since it is not an offence punishable by law. Instead, these victims and survivors have to live with the trauma and fear – until they are actually attacked or brutally murdered – before something is done, ” said WAO.
Stalking comprises harmful, obsessive behaviours that disrupt the lives of victims and cause extreme distress. A survey by WAO involving over 1,000 Malaysians, reveals that one third have experienced stalking that instilled fear, 17% have experienced stalking resulting in harm, and 12% were stalked and threatened with harm. Over 70% of these incidents involved victims being approached at what are meant to be safe spaces – their homes, workplaces or schools.
Last year, an Anti-Stalking Committee which consists of government agencies, the Bar Council and WAO, prepared a policy paper recommending that stalking be made a crime. A draft cabinet paper was prepared by the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department and the reform has multi-partisan support.
“All the work has been done, and all relevant stakeholders agree but the government has yet to table this act. In light of the increase in stalking-related violence, WAO urges the ministry to expedite this process by amending the Penal Code to introduce restraining orders against stalkers under the Criminal Procedure Code, ” said WAO. “We urgently call for stalking to be made a crime to protect lives from being destroyed and to create a safer Malaysia for all."