KUALA LUMPUR: Members of Parliament (MPs) from various parties have called for stalking to be made a crime.
“Currently there are no laws in Malaysia which define or address stalking,” said DAP MP for Batu Kawan, Kasthuri Patto, in the Dewan Rakyat last week during the debate on the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2017.
“We should criminalise stalking and harassment of victims by making these acts offences under the Domestic Violence Act and the Penal Code,” she added.
She also said that many abusive partners are using social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Wechat to stalk and harass victims.
Other MPs echoed this concerns.
“This bill does not address the issue of stalking. After the divorce, ex-husbands still spy on their ex-wives, following them around and threatening them,” commented Amanah MP for Kota Raja, Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud.
BN MP for Tebrau, Khoo Soo Seang, emphasised that the law should prevent not only stalking by abusive partners but also stalking by third parties aiding the abuser.
Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, PKR MP for Gombak, asked, “Does the Ministry see stalking as a criminal offence to be included in the Penal Code and in this amendment bill, or does the Ministry hold a different view?”
Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Dato’ Sri Rohani Abdul Karim, explained that the Penal Code must first recognise stalking, before it can be included in the Domestic Violence Act.
The Minister, who is also BN MP for Batang Lupar, assured the Dewan Rakyat that her ministry is interested in making stalking a crime.
“The government will follow developments related to stalking and will consider to make it a crime in the nearest future,” she said in her Parliamentary reply on Tuesday.
The Minister said it was her wish for stalking to be made a standalone criminal offence, and said she planned to engage with NGOs and activists towards that goal.
President of Women’s Aid Organisation, Carol Chin, welcomed these calls and emphasised the danger of stalking.
“Stalking often leads to more severe forms of violence. Nine out of 10 women murdered by abusive partners were stalked before the murder,” said Chin.
“Yet, many victims of stalking cannot get protection. In many cases, the police can only intervene once the stalker has actually harmed the victim.”
“Our laws must be able to prevent stalkers from harming victims in the first place,” she added.
Stalking is an offense in Singapore, India, Philippines, Japan, the United Kingdom, and many other jurisdictions.