December 16, 2012 is the darkest day not only for India but for the entire human race when a young girl was beaten and gang raped in the New Delhi. The girl battled for life but the brave-heart succumbed to death due to the injuries. What followed was a widespread outcry with people taking to streets demanding justice and even asking for capital punishment for the offenders. Fast track courts were setup and amendments were made to the laws.
One of them being the Indian Penal Code 345D that introduced stalking as a criminal offence. Anyone who commits the offence of stalking shall be punished with imprisonment on first offence along with hefty fines and increased jail terms for subsequent conviction. But was that enough ? NO ! Why ? Because our government is not stringent enough most of the time. People who are victims fail to realize the danger or are told otherwise while they report it. So this post is to increase awareness about stalking and why you should speak up.
What is Stalking ?
To begin with let me put forward the definition of Stalking. Merriam Webster defines Stalking as “to follow, watch, and bother (someone) constantly in a way that is frightening, dangerous, etc”. In much simpler terms Stalking is unwanted and an almost obsessive keen attention by an individual or group towards another individual or group.
This term is no more alien to us, thanks to social media and the changing lifestyles. Technology has not only brought people closer, but what it has also done is made our lives an open book. Everyone is more visible and approachable. It’s highly unfortunate that ‘most’ of the women online have been stalking virtually at some point on the other. In fact, even men are not spared now a days and fall prey to this crime. The problem lies in the fact that most of them aren’t aware that they are being stalked until its too late. It is never too late to speak up for anything that is bothering you. IT IS NOT OKAY!
Are you being Stalked ?
Let me back this up with an instance drawing from an experience of one of my friend. Say a person known or unknown is pestering you and making himself or herself very visible around you in a way which is surpassing your comfort level. This person may not directly approach you at first, or maybe this person may not approach you at all, but this person may call you from disposable SIM cards. Such people can harass you with repeated messaging from anonymous names/accounts. It might also be a case where the person is conveniently available physically around you at all times.
All this is not a crime, right ? Whats the damage ? Where are the bruises ? Its just a couple of calls… There is a solution add them to the blocked list. Make your social media very private use settings choose the audience diligently. What if he/she is always looking at you from a distance you are after all in a public environment and hey they are not causing you any inconvenience so how does that matter? Just ignore… Right? Whoever gives you such advice is indeed a 100%…Wrong.
Your Safety is of utmost priority
If a police officer says these things to you and believe me the chances of this happening in India are quite high. Just remember you are at discomfort and your safety is a concern. Do not give up no matter what and follow through your complaint no matter what. Policemen need to be trained to take immediate action following a complaint, before it leads to more heinous offences like assault and murder. Stalkers can be watched if they are free from jail and any attempt to renew contact with the victim should lead to their re-arrest.
Ignorance fuels crime
The main reason that Stalking as a crime has gone far is Ignorance. Victims keep ignoring it, their families or friends often advice them not to report such incidents simply because nothing major has happened. Sometimes people choose to turn a blind eye because they do not want to get into the hassle of Police and FIR’s and the what not. Sometimes people or victims are just too afraid of the stalker fearing the consequences of reporting. The best solution is to Speak Up and Fight back. Your attention, your time and you as a person are yours only. No one can force you to share it with them against your will and you must ACT !
The intensity of physical infliction is what is often used as a scale to compare the seriousness of any such crime here in India. This is the biggest of all mistakes. Not all cases are alike. Stalking does not always involve sexual assault and vice-versa. One thing to always remember is “Harassment is Harassment”. Mental torment caused by feeling vulnerable or victimized is a type of Harassment too. And you as a person having to go through this have all the rights to report it.
Never ignore any discomfort caused on account of someone else if you think your safety is at risk. Report it ! There are special helpline numbers which are on the beck and all for women in distress. Believe me, if you take the first step every single person around you will join you. Mostly these people or “stalkers” feed off of fear of their victim. These are not times to remain silent or ignore thinking that the potential stalker would eventually give up or somehow realize how miserable they are making you.
Reality check: They wouldn’t be stalking you in the first place if they were to do any of the these.Take charge and make the call.
With this blog I sincerely want to make anyone who is going through a huge amount of mental torture feel empowered and liberated. You have help. Just ask for it. Report the crime and tell yourself that “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”
Things to help you report Stalking:
- Women in Distress : 1091
- Anti Stalking/Obscene calls: 1096
- VithU App: Android