WAO welcomes govt's move to formulate anti-stalking laws

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 24 Jan 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has welcomed the government’s commitment to formulate anti-stalking laws, adding that the new law would address a critical gap in Malaysia’s legal system.
Its executive director, Sumitra Visvanathan, said the government should make stalking a crime under the Penal Code and introduce a restraining order against stalkers in the Criminal Procedure Code.
“Such laws will protect survivors of stalking and ensure that stalking does not escalate to more violent crimes, which is a common outcome of stalking,” she said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 24). 
Sumitra said currently, stalking was not a crime in Malaysia, adding that the authorities cannot do much if someone were to repeatedly contact, follow, or show up at places a person frequents.
“In light of this gap, we welcome the minister’s statement on the need to criminalise stalking,” said Sumitra.
Earlier, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the government was looking into the possibility of enacting anti-stalking laws in the country. 
The de facto law minister said that the act of stalking has to be classified as a crime, because it can cause the victims feeling threatened.
Sumitra added that the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) and WAO have submitted a draft stalking legislation to Liew, and hoped to discuss the proposed law with him soon. 
She also said that stalking was very likely prevalent in Malaysia, adding that a 2014 study by Universiti Sains Malaysia revealed that 9% of women in peninsular Malaysia, who have never been in a relationship, have experienced domestic violence. 
Sumitra added that a 2013 WAO report documenting 34 domestic violence cases, found that 26% of those cases involved stalking. 
“This figure is consistent with statistics in other countries: in the United States, a third of women domestic violence survivors experience stalking.
“Based on these figures, it is possible that around 250,000 domestic violence survivors in Malaysia have been stalked by their abusers, 26% to 33% of 900,000 women.
“Thus, anti-stalking laws have the potential to protect and save thousands of lives,” she said. 
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