Following the unanimous passage of a historic anti-stalking law by Malaysia's Dewan Rakyat, the lower chamber of the nation's parliament, the country became the most recent Asian nation to achieve progress against stalking.
The proposal, proposed by Deputy Law Minister Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, aims to punish physical, digital, and other types of stalking with up to three years in prison, a large fine, or both, depending on the situation.
The proposed law would add a new section, 507A, to the country's penal code that would designate stalking as a crime.
“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 offense of stalking,” the proposed subsection reads.
Samsudin reportedly referenced research findings from the Women's Aid Organization (WAO), a Malaysian NGO, that showed 36% of Malaysians reported feeling afraid after being stalked. Another 17% experienced physical harm, while 12% experienced threats.
According to Samsudin, 69% of Malaysians believe that stalking is illegal, according to Coconuts Kuala Lumpur. Additionally, the study discovered that harassment and stalking had a detrimental impact on the victim's life in terms of their access to social, recreational, and childcare opportunities.
The current development has been long in coming for activists who have been fighting for an anti-stalking law for almost a decade. The humanitarian organization Women's Aid Organization, which works to end violence against women, claimed that it initially approached law enforcement in 2014 to ask about making stalking a crime.
The Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) (No. 2) 2022 and the Penal Code (Amendment) Act 2022 must both be filed fororder for the bill, which is currently in the second reading, to take effect.
Act 574 was first amended to include stalking as a criminal offense. Act 574 was then amended to include a new Section 507(a) that details stalking charges.
According to Section 507(a), stalking is defined as the recurrent use of any kind of harassment with the intent to cause, or knowledge that the act is likely to cause, distress, fear, or alarm to any person or the person's safety.
In the meantime, Section (1) states that harassing behavior can include following someone in any way or by any means, speaking to or attempting to speak with someone in any way or by any means, loitering at someone's home or place of business, and giving or sending something to someone in any way or by any means.
Finally, the clause employs the word "repeatedly," which must allude to at least two occurrences, and states that whomever commits the crime of stalking must be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine or both.
After the bill was approved, Malaysia became one of several Asia-Pacific nations to implement legislation outlawing stalking. These include, among others, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, and India.
“I’m sure from now on [that] those who are vulnerable and in need of better protections will get them, and I want to thank all of those who offered their input,” Samsudin told the Dewan Rakyat. “There are many incidents where the perpetrator got away with it but with this amendment, we can prevent that.”
Source: MalayMail.com, Vice.com, News.Yahoo.com