‘Law will fill the gaps in Domestic Violence Act’

PETALING JAYA: The law against stalking is crucial to filling the gaps in the Domestic Violence Act, as existing laws in Malaysia do not directly address stalking and are insufficient to protect people from the act, says Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.

The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) said stalking someone is set to be criminalised for the first time when the Anti-Stalking Bill goes for the second reading in the Dewan Rakyat next month.

If passed, the Bill will include an amendment to the Penal Code which designates stalking as an offence and an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) which creates a protection order for stalking survivors.

Under the Penal Code (Amendment) Act 2022, a new Section 507A will be created for the crime of stalking.

“Under the provision, a person is deemed to have committed stalking if the individual repeatedly, by any act of harassment, intends to cause or knows or ought to know, that such an act causes distress, fear, or alarm to any person with regard to their safety.

“Those convicted of the offence may be sentenced to imprisonment of not more than three years, a fine or both,” Mas Ermieyati said in an interview yesterday.

Also proposed were amendments to the CPC to allow the courts to issue an order against a suspected offender under investigation from continuing to harass a stalking victim.

A new Section 98A under the CPC (Amendment) Act 2022 allows victims, their lawyers, or guardians of a child or incapacitated adult to apply for the court’s protection ex parte.

“Once the order is issued, the suspected offender will be prohibited or restrained from going near the victim or persons related or associated with the victim.

“The court will be empowered to fix the distance under the restraining order at which a suspected offender is barred from going near the victim or persons related or associated with the victim,” she said.

“We need this law for a safer environment and protection for every Malaysian, especially the victims.

“Stalking is harmful to survivors and victims, and is widespread in Malaysia.

“It is very scary and can also escalate to harmful acts and even murder if not stopped.

“I’ve personally heard from women who have had to move houses and change jobs just to escape their stalkers.

“Many of these survivors are still living in fear as they are still being stalked,” she said.

She also expressed her gratitude to stakeholders, especially the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU), Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), NGOs and everyone involved in initiating the Bill.

Meanwhile, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun said the Anti-Stalking Bill is needed as stalking is often linked to acts of aggression by the perpetrators.

Her ministry officials were involved in the BHEUU team to prepare the draft for the Bill.

“My ministry has received many reports about women being stalked after ending a relationship, and in some cases, they end up with tragic consequences.

“While women are the majority of stalking victims, men can also be victims,” she said in an interview yesterday.

Rina said the Bill will help complement the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2021, the Campaign to Combat Online Sexual Crimes Against Children, and the National Reproductive Health Education and Social (Pekerti) Policy and Action Plan 2022–2025, which were launched in September.

Mas Ermieyati tabled the Bill for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on Aug 4 this year.

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