Did you know that in Malaysia stalking isn’t a crime? There are some existing laws related to stalking – however, these laws do not adequately address stalking and provide no legal provision for stalking survivors to get restraining orders.
More than a third of Malaysians (39% of women and 32% of men) have experienced an act associated with stalking, which caused them to be fearful. These statistics come from a new survey conducted by research company, Vase.ai, and the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).
The survey results support calls to make stalking a crime, and afford protection to survivors. Respondents shared that they’ve experienced stalking more than once, or continuously, by the same person – one in eight respondents (8% of women and 16% of men) experienced stalking involving threats of harm, and one in six respondents (12% of women and 21% of men) experienced stalking which led to actual harm.
Prevalence of stalking
The results of the survey “Understanding Malaysians’ Experiences of Stalking,” revealed that 88% of Malaysians have experienced an act associated with stalking – 60% of Malaysians have experienced these acts on more than one occasion or continuously.
These acts include:
- Receiving unwanted phone calls or messages.
- Receiving unwanted emails, chats or messages via platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
- Being spied on via a listening device, camera or GPS.
- Being watched or followed from a distance.
- Individuals who they did not want, showing up at their homes, workplace, or school.
Impact of stalking
Stalking doesn’t only cause fear and physical harm, it also negatively affects economic, social, educational, and household activities. Almost half of Malaysians who experienced acts associated with stalking suffered a negative impact on their daily lives – they were unable to focus in their employment place, could not feel safe being alone in public, and did not feel safe to attend university or a skills training course.
Reporting of stalking
More than half of the respondents, who experienced an act of stalking, did not report it to the police – nearly half of them did not do so because they didn’t believe the police could or would help. Almost half of those who did make a police report were not satisfied with the action taken by the police. Making stalking a crime would enable the authorities to respond to reports better, and ensure those being stalked are protected.
Need for anti-stalking law
In addition to an anti-stalking law defining and criminalising acts of stalking, and affording protections to survivors, such a law would also help society understand stalking better and spread awareness – both on the part of survivors of stalking, as well as on the part of perpetrators who are engaging in acts of stalking.
Although the survey results found that 69% of Malaysians believe that stalking is wrong, the high prevalence and low reporting rates of stalking suggest that there may be a gap in the law. Although stalking is a fairly common occurrence, it has been going unreported and unpunished. WAO urges the Minister of Law, Dato’ Takiyuddin Hassan, to lead the government in making stalking a crime without delay. You can sign WAO’s petition to #MakeStalkingACrime.