The Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) and local research firm Vase.ai released yesterday, 16 December, detailed findings from their survey titled 'Understanding Malaysians' Experiences of Stalking'
The survey was sent to respondents from 17 September to 19 September.
The aim of the research was to learn how Malaysians have been experiencing acts of stalking and harassment, what they perceive stalking behaviours to be, and the reasons they do not report these incidents.
According to Vase's methodology, there were a total of 1,008 respondents aged 18 and above. They answered the survey in English and Bahasa Melayu.
However, individuals aged 65 were underrepresented, likely due to lower rates of Internet usage among those aged 60 and above.
The survey found that 88% of Malaysians have experienced acts related to stalking
This includes receiving unwanted phone calls or messages from people, getting watched or followed from a distance, and having rumours of them spread, among other reasons that were included.
60% of Malaysians who were stalked have experienced it more than once or continuously.
Also, stalking was mostly committed by strangers and acquaintances in which their acts were not covered by the Domestic Violence Act 1994.
According to the survey, 69% of Malaysians who experience stalking did not report the incident to the police
Stalking is not considered a crime in Malaysia because there are currently no laws against it. Although there are some existing laws related to stalking, they are not enough to address the issue.
51% of Malaysians have heard of stalking and think it is wrong, while 21% have heard of it and do not think it is wrong.
69% of respondents who experienced stalking did not report it to the police. Among them, 45% did not do so because they believe that the police would not or could not help them.
As for 31% of respondents who did lodge a police report, 47% of them said they were not satisfied with how the police handled the issue.
Almost half of the respondents said that being stalked has negatively affected their daily lives
18% of respondents who were stalked said that they could not focus in their workplace. Additionally, 17% could not or did not feel safe being alone in public.
Based on the survey findings, WAO urged Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan to criminalise stalking quickly in order to protect survivors
WAO said, "Such a law would also help to enhance societal understanding of stalking 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."
The organisation added that the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code should be amended by adding stalking as an offence.
The public can also help to make stalking a crime by signing WAO's petition here
The issue of online stalking re-emerged after a Telegram group of 35,000 members was found spreading women's photos without their consent: