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WAO Welcomes Law Minister’s Statement on Criminalising Stalking

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has welcomed Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong’s recent statement on the need to formulate anti-stalking laws in Malaysia.

“It is important that we formulate a law to look into stalking,” Datuk Liew Vui Keong told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, in an article published yesterday.

He also added that the government has begun early discussions on introducing an anti-stalking law and the views of non-governmental organisations and women’s rights groups would be welcomed and taken into account.

Responding to Datuk Liew Vui Keong’s statement, the Executive Director of WAO, Sumitra Visvanathan thanked the minister for his commitment to formulate anti-stalking laws, adding that the new law would address a critical gap in Malaysia’s legal system.

“Stalking is currently not a crime in Malaysia, which means that if someone were to repeatedly contact you, follow you, or show up at places you frequent, in a way that would reasonably cause fear or emotional distress, there is little that the authorities can do. In light of this gap, we welcome the minister’s statement on the need to criminalise stalking,” said Sumitra.

“The government should make stalking a crime under the Penal Code, and introduce a restraining order against stalkers in the Criminal Procedure Code. Such laws will protect survivors of stalking and ensure that stalking does not escalate to more violent crimes, which is a common outcome of stalking.”

“The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) and WAO have submitted draft stalking legislation to the minister and we hope to discuss the proposed law with the minister soon.”

Sumitra further highlighted that stalking is likely prevalent in Malaysia.

“According to a 2014 study by Universiti Sains Malaysia, nine per cent of women in Peninsular Malaysia who have ever been in a relationship have experienced domestic violence. This is equivalent to over 900,000 women.”

“In a 2013 WAO report documenting 34 domestic violence cases, 26 per cent of these cases involved stalking. This figure is consistent with statistics in other countries: in the United States, a third of women domestic violence survivors experience stalking.”

“Based on these figures, it is possible that around 250,000 domestic violence survivors in Malaysia have been stalked by their abusers (26-33 per cent of 900,000 women).”

“Thus, anti-stalking laws have the potential to protect and save thousands of lives,” concluded Sumitra.

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