Stalking cases up but convictions still 0

The number of cases almost doubled in 2016, compared to 2015

December 23, 2017 01:16 am | Updated 07:00 pm IST - CHENNAI

If recent data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) are any indication, women from Tamil Nadu no longer shy away from lodging a complaint if they are stalked. This is evident from the fact that in terms of number of stalking cases registered, the State rose up by three positions in 2016 compared to 2015. Experts attribute this to the fact that it was only recently that stalking has come to be looked at as a separate category of crime.

In 2015, with 11 cases, Tamil Nadu was in the 21st position among 36 states and Union Territories. The State moved up to the 18th position in 2016 after registering 28 cases.

The number of persons arrested was 13 and 32 respectively. However the jump did not alter the conviction rate as it remained at zero in both the years. It was only after the Nirbhaya incident that offences like acid attack, voyeurism, sexual harassment and stalking were seen as separate crimes. Till then a crime like stalking was treated under IPC sections for eve teasing or outraging the modesty of women.

Now section 354 D of the IPC states that any man who follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact, the woman to foster a personal interaction repeatedly, despite a clear indication of disinterest by the woman, can be charged for stalking, with a jail term of no less than one year. Monitoring the use of Internet, email or any other form of electronic communication by a woman also amounts to stalking.

A serious issue

“Awareness has improved among women , so many are coming forward to lodge complaints. Besides, stalking is being treated as a crime only recently, hence it will take some time to see the conviction rate increase,” said Sudha Ramalingam, a senior advocate.

Prasanna Gettu, founder, International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC), said that the number of stalking incidents would be more.

“Many women face the problem of online stalking and remain silent fearing retaliation. There is a need for a better support system for women,” she said. “We try to extend maximum support to the women. The death of Swathi and Induja have served as an eye-opener for many families as they have understood the seriousness of stalking,” said a senior police officer.

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