Stalking - A Crime Indeed (What should be done? (Law makers and the…
Stalking - A Crime Indeed
Meaning of stalking
Harass or persecute (someone) with unwanted and obsessive attention.
The recent incident of a woman being pursued at night by men in Chandigarh has brought up the issue of stalking to the fore.
Oppositions are getting stronger that the perpetrators should not have been let out on bail without due verification and interrogation.
Legislation with stalking in India?
Section 354 D of the Indian Penal Code pertains stalking as a bailable offence.
As of now, the first offence of stalking is “bailable”, implying that the accused need not be produced before a court for seeking bail but can be relieved from a police station itself.
Any subsequent offence of stalking is „non-bailable', meaning court will have the discretion to grant
bail to an accused.
The Justice Verma Committee had recommended that stalking be introduced as a non-bailable offence with
one to three years in jail as punishment.
A Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance also wanted every offence of stalking be considered as non-bailable.
Problems in this regard?
There is an almost 50% rise in stalking cases but conviction rate is abysmally low.
The duration it takes for the police to file charge sheet for the offence that is bailable could lead to complainants losing the resolve to continue
There are also instances of complainants being pressured into withdrawing the case.
Stalking is far too often dismissed as harmless. However, it is important to understand how traumatic and inhibiting it is for a woman to be pursued with uncalled-for interest.
Stalking, at times, contains the seeds for a bigger, often violent crime including murder and acid attack.
What should be done?
Law makers and the society should start understanding stalking as indeed a crime that requires swift punishment.
Time-bound trial can help in more convictions.
Stalking and eve-teasing are not given the same importance as other ―grave‖ forms of sexual violence such as rape.
These are often normalised, romanticised and encouraged especially in popular culture.
But offences such as stalking deprive women of their fundamental right to occupy public space without fear.
The perception that violence must necessarily involve some form of bodily harm should definitely change.
Evidently, the change is now needed in social attitude towards considering stalking as a mere annoyance.
It has to go to the level of respecting and valuing the honour and dignity of women and their choices.