IntroductionAsk any woman how she feels about being stalked and her response would be something along the lines of feeling violated and gripped by paralyzing fear. A stalker can be an ex-husband or an ex-boyfriend. He could also be someone known to the woman like someone she worked with or someone whose advances she turned down. He could be a neighbor or a friend of a friend or an absolute stranger.
Whoever the man may be, stalking makes a woman feel harassed and unsafe – it traumatizes her, because she lives in constant fear, of being watched and followed. The intentions of the stalker are unclear and this can be quite unnerving.
A stalker may just stalk the woman and watch her from a 'safe' distance. He may travel on the same route as her, every day, watching her throughout the journey and following her to wherever she is headed. The stalker may wait for her, at the same spot, every day and follow her. They may wait outside her house. Most stalkers though make an attempt to start a conversation with the woman, obtain her phone number and call her at odd hours. Stalking can also take place through the electronic media. The whole thing can be very unsettling for the woman, the victim.
Most victims of stalking fear for their life, and often have to deal with immense disruptions to their routines. Stalking is rampant in India and has been around for years. However, it was only as recent as 2013 that is was seen as a serious offense. A new Act was passed, under which Section 354-D of the Indian Penal Code recognizes stalking as a criminal offense, along with new offenses such as sexual harassment, acid attack and voyeurism. Despite there being a law against it cases of stalking often go unreported, just like cases of domestic violence. Under the law, a stalker can be sentenced to imprisonment for a period not less than one year and can extend up to three years and the offense is also liable to fine.
What is stalking ?In layman's language stalking involves repeated attempts by a man, to follow, threaten, terrorise or gain control over a woman. There can be different ranges of stalking, it might, for instance, include constant calls over the phone or contact through emails or letters. In more extreme cases it involves following a woman, going over to the woman's house or workplace or making threats to her. It could also involve intimidation and acts of violence such as stealing her possessions or harming her property. The stalker can also be charged with interfering in her personal life and harming her friends and family. Stalkers may resort to violence or continue to harass from a distance.
Repeated and unwanted contact, which crosses the line of what is acceptable and what is not, is seen as stalking. A stalker causes dread and panic. It is not a case of simple infatuation.
Why do men stalk ?Stalkers 'think' that they are in love with the woman they stalk. Every so often, stalkers who have been caught for the crime, claim that they are in love with the victim. Their behavior stems from the strong emotions that they feel for the woman they stalk. In their mind and heart, they stalk to keep a watch over their victim, to keep her safe, and to prevent her from having a relationship with another male. Stalkers often go to the extent of harming male friends of the women they stalk.
For example, if a woman has walked out of a bad marriage involving domestic abuse the ex-husband might stalk her to see whom she is dating. He is perhaps obsessed with her and upset that she left him. He wants to make life miserable for her, by trying to scare and terrorize her with his constant presence. He continues to victimize and control her, even though their marriage is over.
Psychologists say stalkers feel powerful when they control others. To a stalker, the victim is no more than a possession, which he feels belongs to him alone. It manifests from a mental disorder.
What does psychology say about stalkers ?According to experts stalking is definitely a result of mental health issues. Stalkers do not think or act like normal people. They have certain personality traits that separate them from normal men. Stalkers have low self-esteem and struggle with personality issues. They are manipulative bullies and have this strong urge to control women. They often do not take refusal in their stride, especially when it involves a woman refusing to be a part of his life.
What can stalking victims do ?If you find someone is stalking you don't turn a blind eye. Ignoring the person is not going to make him go away. Inform someone, as it helps to keep people in the loop. Let your family know of this strange development. Tell friends, whom you meet regularly or go out with of this person following you. If the person is following you to your workplace, let your colleagues know.
Have someone capture the man's movements, where he can be seen following you. This helps when you make a police complaint against the man, as a recording of him following you will corroborate your version.
If you know someone is stalking you, go to the cops immediately. Your inaction could cost you your life or leave you disfigured for life. There have been umpteen cases where stalkers fatally attacked their victims because of unrequited love. There are also instances where stalkers threw acid on their victims because of unreciprocated feelings of love. You don't want to be another number in the statistics of crimes against women.
Steps you can take to stay safe
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.
Follow Juana or read 552 articles authored by Juana
More articles: What to do
Knowledgeable article indeed! Before reading this article I had no idea about stalking and stalker.
I was wondering if some of the women safety apps like 'Himmat' can be any use for the victim being stalked. However, Himmat app is for people living in Delhi which allows the user to record 30 seconds audio and video message which is relayed to the Police Control Room and then police can send immediate help and support to the victim. The app also allows to send sms alert to five friends or relatives at the instant.
In this modern world of gadgets, smartphones with apps like 'Himmat' can act as a personal bodyguard for women.
A detailed article that gives an insight into the creepy world of stalkers and the brave women out there dealing with these social misfits. The internet is full of famous stalkers of well-known models and actresses and last but not least women stalkers who stalk men.
A very nicely written article and appreciation to the author for her good work. Dealt with the subject in detail. A very useful article, especially for ladies.
These days such incidents are in the rising mode. More instances are taking place in the society. These issues are happening in colleges and offices.
I feel ladies should go in offensive mode instead of defensive mode. They should get equipped themselves with some protective techniques like Karate etc. I am not sure whether it is advisable to keep a Mirchi (pepper) spray in the bag always for self-protection.
The idea of the app is excellent, but how effective is the app in protecting women? According to reports ‘Himmat’ was launched, a third time, as there had been few takers. It is not the perfect ‘safety’ tool and needs to be made more user-friendly. I have seen video ads of this app where the response time is impressive, but are our police really as efficient as portrayed in the ads. I am not being skeptical, but there are numerous instances where the inaction of the cops has been reported.
An ex-student of mine shared this horrific incident that happened to her, as she was driving home, one night, in Lucknow. It wasn’t even late, but she had a man on a two-wheeler stalking her. She took pictures of him and recorded a video of his actions. When she spotted a cop and shared her ordeal with him, this guy on the two-wheeler had the audacity to stop on the side of the road and watch. Anyway, the cop told her to let it be, “madam ghar jao, yeh sab toh hota hae”. But, she didn’t go home, which was just a few minutes away, she showed courage and drove to the police station and filed a complaint. We need more women to do that and we need cops to be more responsive.
It is the attitude that ‘yeh sab toh hota hae’, ‘ladke hein’, ‘ladki akele itni raat ko kya kar rahi thi’ etc that deliver a wrong message.
The Indian Penal Code does not recognise stalking by women, as a crime. At least there is no section under which a woman can be booked for stalking a man. It is clear that in the eyes of the law women are the more harassed lot among the two sexes.
I cannot view this from a man’s perspective and cannot tell how threatened, vulnerable, scared or violated a man would feel, being stalked by a woman. I am imagining a scenario of stalking in real life, not stalking over the electronic media. Would a woman’s lewd gaze make a man feel defenceless?
Stalking is one thing with which every and any woman will feel embarrassed. This is the most primitive and ugliest form of human attribute. It is more or less like an animal instinct. There are methods to tackle it but the fear and dismay it creates in a person is very degrading. It is all together a humiliation.
Safeguarding oneself with latest techniques is one thing but when our society will be so sophisticated as to completely quash this thing is the question haunting my mind.
Thank you, Madam, I just pointed out as I had read about celebrity actors in the West needing to get legal help from women stalkers. I think the major problem now in India would be men stalking women and not vice-versa ( maybe things may change).
I'm glad that times have changed. About 15-20 years ago, it was unheard for women to come out in the open and complain about eve teasing or physical harassment. Now, I am glad to see teenagers and women assertively taking on eve-teasers at the spot and taking them to task as seen in TV news reports or daily newspapers.
Some untapped sources of support or deterrent to stalking is for the city municipal corporations to have helplines or a dedicated number (108,101 etc). It can be even for harassment of women. The second source is, we the public and responsible citizens must come forward to question men who harass women.
Even if they come forward, it'll be a couple of people who can be targeted later on by the perpetrator. If much more people from the public quickly come forward to question or prevent such acts, then gradually these crimes against women will certainly reduce.
This behaviour always existed in our society; it is just that now we have begun talking about it. Women have stopped treating these incidents casually and have begun reporting them. There is more awareness today about women safety, sexual harassment etc.
Our society has only recently realised what it has been breeding. There is a certain impunity attached when our leaders treat such incidents with nonchalance. Allowing boys to be boys, takes away my freedom to be myself.
Knowledge of self-defence techniques is a necessity today. Not everyone enrols for special self-defence classes. But, there is one trick that everyone woman should be made aware of, which is to lift her knee and jab it into the privates of the male attacker. Instead of fighting to get free, the aim must be to cause injury to the attacker. The fist can be used to punch between the legs, where the testicles are and hands can also be used to squeeze the daylights out of the attacker. It is about safety and when a woman is under threat she must be equipped to do things that cause maximum damage.
Attacking the eyes with fingers and nails is also an effective defence, as is twisting the ears or the nose of the attacker.
Being stalked or even ogled at in public can be very uncomfortable. As a woman, I know how it feels and can relate to young girls saying that they feel they are being disrobed. Such actions by men leave women frightened and deplete her confidence. No one wants to live in constant fear of being followed or threatened by someone.
I think our society will change when boys are educated when they are young. This should begin at home; respect for others comes when we are taught to respect them. It is an issue which is not dealt with properly.
Even our movies glorify stalking.
Your suggestions are good, but how far can they be implemented is the question. Dedicated helplines would also require a bigger taskforce to tackle the menace. If you go by what is reported on the National television, many a time cops refuse to register even an FIR.
Strangers on the road do not want to get involved. Take into view the number of times accident victims are left to die because no help is forthcoming. No one wants to get involved with rowdies and put their lives at risk.
According to me there are two ways of tackling the menace of eve-teasing and stalking –
1. The punishment should be severe enough to act as a deterrent.
2. Education must start at home. Parents must educate their boys and teach them to respect the opposite gender. Moral and social values begin at home. If children can be taught to not tell a lie or not to steal, they can surely they can be taught to not indulge in socially unacceptable activities.