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Women's Aid Organisation Says Law To #MakeStalkingACrime Needs Further Improvements

We believe the current bill is robust, and we urge members of parliament to support it.

Cover image via Harian Metro & ScoopWhoop

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Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) welcomes the tabling of law amendments to make stalking a crime in the Dewan Rakyat for its first reading yesterday, 4 August

When enacted, this law will help protect thousands of Malaysians who experience stalking each year. It will also prevent grievous injuries and even murders, which are often preceded by stalking.

The law includes the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2022, which creates the offence of stalking; and the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2022, which creates a protection order for stalking survivors.

A study by WAO and Vase.ai found that over a third of Malaysians – including 39% of women – have experienced stalking, which caused them fear.

More and more countries have enacted specific legal provisions on stalking, with the most recent one being South Korea last year.

There is comprehensive support to make stalking a crime in Malaysia, including from enforcement agencies, civil society, academics, legal practitioners, and the public.

Initial versions of the law were developed by the Anti-Stalking Committee, comprising government agencies, WAO, and the Bar Council. Survivors of stalking contributed as well.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via New Straits Times

We believe the current bill is robust, and we urge members of parliament to support it.

Nonetheless, we propose three amendments which would further improve the bill:

1. 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. 

These situations can also be dangerous.


2. Add doxing, interfering with property, and spying to the list of acts of harassment.

Stalking laws usually list acts associated with stalking. The current bill lists following, communicating, loitering around someone's house or workplace, and sending things as acts that may amount to stalking (if repeated and reasonably causes fear, distress, or alarm).

This list can be improved by adding doxing, interfering with property, and spying. These are also common stalking behaviours.


3. Extend the duration of stalking protection orders.

A key component of stalking laws is enabling survivors to obtain protection orders. The bill creates a protection order, but the protection order can only remain in effect for the duration of the investigation and trial.

Courts should be given discretion to extend the effective period of protection beyond the investigation or trial period, if necessary to protect the survivor.

All these recommendations are consistent with stalking laws in other countries, like the UK, Singapore, New Zealand, and other jurisdictions

The government's move to table the anti-stalking law is appreciated, and we look forward to continue working with the government and policymakers to pass the bill.

This story is a personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the position of SAYS.

You too can submit a story as a SAYS reader by emailing us at [email protected]

If you or someone you know may be at risk or has experienced sexual abuse or assault, please reach out to these Malaysian organisations:

1. WOMEN'S AID ORGANISATION (WAO)
Operating hours: 24-hour
Contact: +603-30008858
SMS/WhatsApp: +6018-9888058
Website | Facebook | Twitter

2. ALL WOMEN'S ACTION SOCIETY (AWAM)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9.30am - 5.30pm)
Contact: +603-78770224
WhatsApp/Telegram: +6016-2284221 | +6016-2374221
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

3. WOMEN'S CENTRE FOR CHANGE PENANG (WCC PENANG)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9am - 5pm)
Contact: +604-2280342 | +604-3988340
WhatsApp: +6011-31084001 | +6016-4180342
Email: [email protected]g
Website | Facebook | Twitter

4. SARAWAK WOMEN FOR WOMEN SOCIETY (SWWS)
Operating hours: Monday (7pm - 9pm), Tuesday to Thursday (9.30am - 11.30am), Saturday (2pm - 4pm)
Contact: +6082-368853
SMS/WhatsApp: +6016-5822660 | +6013-8044285
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

5. SABAH WOMEN'S ACTION-RESOURCE GROUP (SAWO)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9am - 5pm)
Contact: +6088-280200 | +6011-27908020
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

6. PROTECT AND SAVE THE CHILDREN (PS THE CHILDREN)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (3pm - 12am)
WhatsApp: +6016-7213065
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

7. INTERNET WATCH FOUNDATION (IWF)
Anonymously and confidentially report child sexual abuse content and non-photographic child sexual abuse images with IWF's Reporting Portal.

Studies have found that many Malaysians have experienced stalking but do not report these incidents:

Meanwhile, it took over a decade of discussions for the Dewan Rakyat to finally pass the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill:

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