Thousands of Malaysian women experience stalking and, far too often, victims suffer harm or are even killed by their stalkers. Because stalking is not recognised as a crime, most victims do not go to the police if they are being stalked as their reports would be in vain. There is also no legal provision for victims to obtain a restraining order for protection.
One NGO wants to change that.
According to The Star, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has started an online petition, calling for stalking to be made a crime punishable by law in Malaysia. They call on authorities – the Cabinet of Malaysia, Malaysian Parliament, and Law Minister Dato Takiyuddin Hassan to take action.
“There is no legal provision for survivors and victims of stalking to get restraining orders against their stalkers. Because of this, victims are not protected by the police, and stalkers are not held accountable,” says WAO deputy executive director and advocacy director Yu Ren Chung.
He added that, “Stalking is harmful. It can really ruin someone’s life. Some survivors change jobs, shift house, and even move out of state to stay safe from their stalker. Stalking can also escalate to more harmful acts such as assault and even murder… But it really shouldn’t be survivors’ burden to protect themselves. Malaysian laws need to protect people from stalking”.
Stalking also doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s done by a complete stranger. Early this year, WAO reported that about 26% of the domestic violence victims that they support were stalked by their intimate partners.
“I experienced stalking for almost two years from my ex boyfriend. I was in a relationship with said stalker for almost 6 months. Without me realising, he has stalked every single one of my social media accounts just to see who I’m talking with.”
— Women’s Aid Org (@womensaidorg) September 25, 2020
“If we go by a study done by the Centre for Research on Women and Gender at Universiti Sains Malaysia, 9% of ever-partnered women in Malaysia experience domestic violence – that’s roughly 900,000 women. Based on these figures, it is possible that at least 250,000 women in abusive relationships experience stalking. And these figures don’t include women who are not in relationships, ” says WAO’s advocacy officer, Tan Heang-Lee.
Yu mentions that making stalking an offence in the Penal Code is a straightforward way to help protect Malaysians from stalking.
“It is in line with international practice, supported by government frontliners and NGOs, and enjoys bipartisan support,” he says.
He also reveals that a government-NGO committee has already drafted the legal language, and the government announced at the last Dewan Rakyat session that a cabinet paper is being prepared.
While we wait for that to proceed, WAO is calling on everyone to sign its online petition to make stalking a crime in Malaysia.
Click here, to sign the petition.