More than a third of Malaysians say they’ve felt fear caused by another person stalking them. Soon, they may have a legal weapon to fight back.
Yesterday, Putrajaya proposed stalking as an offense under its Penal Code (Act 574) amendment.
Deputy Law Minister Mas Ermieyati Samsuddin, who tabled the proposed amendment for its first reading in the Dewan Rakyat, said stalkers may face up to three years of imprisonment if the amendment passed.
The amendment bill seeks to insert a new section – 507A – into Act 574 to provide for the offence of stalking.
The proposed new part of the bill that was distributed in the Dewan Rakyat reads as follows:
“Whoever repeatedly by any act of harassment, intending to cause, or knowing or ought to know that the act is likely to cause distress, fear or alarm to any person of the person’s safety, commits an offence of stalking”.
Additionally, the measure stipulates that offenders can face a sentence of up to three years in prison, a fine, or a combination of the two.
The proposal to make stalking a crime was mooted in 2019 with the establishment of the Anti-Stalking Committee.
Based on a survey in 2020 by research company Vase.ai and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), more than a third (36%) of Malaysians (39% of women and 32% of men) have experienced stalking.
Specifically, those respondents said they had experienced an act associated with stalking more than once or continuously by the same person, which caused them to be fearful.
Meanwhile, 12% of respondents (8% of women and 16% of men) said they had experienced stalking involving threats of harm, and 17% of respondents (12% of women and 21% of men) experienced stalking which led to actual harm.
The survey, “Understanding Malaysians’ Experiences of Stalking”, was based on insights from 1,008 nationally representative Malaysian men and women and sought to assess the prevalence and understanding of stalking in Malaysia. The results of the survey were shared today in a public briefing by WAO and Vase.ai.