Anti-stalking law: Strengthen protection for survivors

Anti-stalking law: Strengthen protection for survivors

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has taken an important first step by implementing the anti-stalking law, which has been hailed as a milestone in the country’s efforts to combat gender-based crimes.
However, certain areas within the legislation need to be further strengthened, specifically provisions related to survivor protection.

“The law is a very important step because survivors couldn’t even make a report if it doesn’t cover physical stalking before. But protection orders need to be extended beyond the investigation period, for at least three to six months, to ensure that survivors are safe.” says Abinaya Dhivya, Research and Advocacy Officer at the Women’s Aid Organisation.

On March 29, the Dewan Rakyat passed amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code to include a new Section 507A to make stalking – physically or online – a criminal offence. Anyone found guilty of the offence is liable to a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both.

On August 9, Muhamad Safiq Rosli became the first person to be charged under the act after photographer Acacia Diana shared her harrowing experience of being stalked by the 37-year-old, in Malaysia and abroad, for more than eight years.

Acacia’s account, shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, attracted widespread attention and prompted the authorities to take action.
“The reality is that not all survivors want to go public with their case as they face high repercussion doing so. Many of them ended up being pushed out of online spaces due to severe stalking,” says Abinaya.

Acacia herself spoke of the challenges she faced in distancing herself from online platforms, which ultimately jeopardised her career, which relied heavily on a social media presence.
Dhivya called on the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to formulate a comprehensive legal framework and guidelines that specifically address online stalking. This is particularly important to track down perpetrators who may use multiple online accounts to harass and stalk their victims.

“Survivors need to document their experiences to create a timeline of evidence, incidents that happened after 31 May 2023, when the anti-stalking provisions came into effect.”


Abinaya also called for better training for law enforcement officers in dealing with stalking cases.

According to her, there have been cases where survivors have been turned away by police officers who consider stalking to be a minor offence or not an offence at all.

“It’s a new law and there will be people all over the country reporting cases of stalking. The police need to be trained to look at it as a criminal act because there have been cases where survivors were told by the police that stalking is not a crime, or that it’s not a big issue,” says Abinaya.

Police, she says, also need to be given proper guidelines on how to handle stalking cases, including how to be more gender sensitive.

“It’s very important that when they go to the police station, they’re not told that the person (the stalker) is interested in you, or that they’re just following you because you’re attractive.
“Those statements can really deter survivors from trying to get support or help,” says Abinaya.


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