PETALING JAYA: Thousands of Malaysians who are stalked each year will be protected once the act is categorised as a crime, says the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).
This could also prevent grievous injuries and even murders that were often preceded by stalking, it said in reference to proposed amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to criminalise stalking.
The amendments have been welcomed by women’s rights groups.
In a statement, WAO also suggested further amendments to strengthen the law.
“First, broaden the definition of stalking to include continuous conduct. The current Bill recognises that stalking consists of repeated acts – for example, a stalker may repeatedly try and follow and contact you.
“But stalking can also be a single but continuous act. For example, a stalker may continuously follow you from your office to your house, which can also be dangerous.
“Add doxing (the public exposure of private information), interfering with property, and spying to the list of acts of harassment that are also common stalking behaviours.
“Lastly, the Bill should extend the effective period of stalking protection orders to go beyond the duration of the investigation and trial, if necessary,” WAO said.
A study by WAO with market research company Vase.ai found that over a third of Malaysians, including 39% of women, have experienced stalking that made them feel afraid.
All Women’s Action Society (Awam) communications officer Jernell Tan Chia Ee said the law against stalking is crucial as it fills gaps in the Domestic Violence Act.
“The Domestic Violence Act is one of the legislations that provide protection for survivors of abuse, but it does not cover cases involving perpetrators that are not or have not been married to the survivor,” she said.
Women’s rights activist Ivy Josiah said that women’s groups, particularly the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, must be congratulated for diligently advocating for an anti-stalking law.
“It is very important that protection orders be made available in the law to stop and prevent stalking,’’ Josiah said, adding the law must also protect against cyberstalking.
“The anti-stalking law must address what is described as the silent pandemic within the Covid-19 pandemic, that is, the increase in cyberviolence whereby largely women have been subjected to online bullying and harassment,” said Josiah.