Stalking Meaning ?
Stalking is keeping surveillance on a person by an individual or group of individuals with or without any reason. Stalking can be of different types, such as physically stalking a person, stalking over internet, mail or social media platforms. There is a misconception that stalking always occurs with females but that is not true, even males can be stalked for intimidating or threatening him.
How to find whether you are being stalked?
Let us find out what exactly stalking is and how you can be sure that you are being stalked.
Whenever any unknown person or any group either follows you physically while you go out of your house or is monitoring your day-to-day activities using devices like camera, microphone, GPS, etc. then you are being stalked physically.
Stalking is not always physical, it can be in the form of voice calls, text messages, messages through social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc. So, if you are experiencing any of these for quite some days by some unknown individual or group then you are being stalked.
Let me make it clear, it is not necessary to be a female for being stalked. Even men can be stalked for various reasons and they can also file a complaint about intimidation or threat to them.
Laws regarding stalking
In many surveys, it has been observed that people do not report stalking merely because they are not sure whether police will take any action or not.
It is worth noting here that, The Criminal Law(Amendment) Act, 2013 has made stalking, a crime under Section 354D(1)(1). The provision describes stalking as ‘an act where any man repeatedly follows and contacts a woman so as to foster personal interaction despite a clear indication of interest by such woman’. If the conviction is proved the law prescribes imprisonment up to 3 years along with a fine for the first conviction and imprisonment up to 5 years with a fine for repeated cases.
So, you can freely report cases of stalking and police always take such cases seriously because it is related to mental trauma which a person suffers due to stalking.
However, many women in India do not feel comfortable to report such cases of stalking directly to the police due to many reasons. For them, they can also file a complaint online about which we will be discussing in the section below.
How to report stalking?
As discussed above, you can always directly approach the police station in your vicinity and they will take appropriate action.
If you are a woman and not comfortable with the traditional approach then also you can file an online complaint at the National Commission for Women(NCW) portal. Once you file the complaint, the NCW will do the preliminary investigation to verify the complaint, collect evidence and file a complaint to the police. They will also keep track of the complaint and ensure that proper investigation is done and justice is ensured to the victim.
Sometimes, they even verify the police records, summon the suspected convict(s) or even represent the victim in the court.
This is one of the best approaches to report stalking and related crime if you are a woman. Here is a link to the website where you can file the complaint online (www.ncw.nic.in/front- pageicon/register-complaint). You can also call the commission directly on (011-23219750) and they will help you to file a complaint.
According to a report released by National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) in January 2020, there were 9438 cases of stalking in the year 2018 with each case being reported every 55 minutes on an average. The report also revealed that the number of cases nearly doubled as compared to that in the year 2014.
With such a huge number of reported cases, it is believed that the actual number of cases is much higher because many of these cases remain underreported. A study conducted by the Commonwealth Human Rights initiative found only 1 out of 13 cases of sexual harassment and stalking being reported in Delhi and only 1 out of 9 in Mumbai. Both of the cities are metro cities, so now you can imagine what would be the situation in other cities and rural areas of the country.
It has become a serious issue for the government of the day and many steps have been taken in this regard. Among the steps include, bringing more cases on record, providing a centralised system for lodging complaint, employing technological means to increase the pace of resolution of reported cases and most importantly providing justice to the victim in the least possible time. Many of these steps have been successful but a lot needs to be done to deal with this issue.
Impact of Stalking on the victim
Stalking is a kind of mental assault on the victim, the person who suffers this undergoes depression and this has other impacts too on the life of the victim. Sometimes the person changes his daily routine, leaves or shifts to another job, college or school.
The victims who undergo cyber-stalking once in a lifetime become reluctant in talking to new people or making new friends on social media because the fear settles down in their mind and it is very difficult to get over that situation.
Although stalking doesn’t harm the individual physically, the mental impact it causes can be very dangerous for the rest of the victim’s life.