Crime against women on rise, stalking should be dealt with sternly: Court

Crime against women on rise, stalking should be dealt with sternly: Court
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New Delhi: Expressing concern over rise in crime against women in the national capital, a Delhi court has said the judiciary should sternly deal with issue of stalking as the perpetrator, “if not treated”, becomes dangerous over time and poses threat to the lives of women.
The court said the Indian society has been struggling to find ways to deal with the crime of stalking, which was made an offence in 2013, but there have been several shortcoming in the existing law and a stalker cannot be allowed to roam around freely as his activities could be dangerous for others.
Special Judge Kamini Lau lamented that the society often blames women saying they failed to wear “modest clothes”. However, it has been observed that even those wearing dresses which “society claims are decent”, are also not spared but teased to a greater extent.
“Eve teasing has not to be judged by men by their own parameters but by women as to how they feel about the same. To a pervert mind, it does not matter how a woman is dressed, how old she is, how pretty she is, where she is — whether in a public transport or hospital etc.
“Eve Teasing is almost institutionalised in public transport and public places and what these perverts look for are easy preys and vulnerable victims so that they are not got caught,” the court said.
The court made the observations while dismissing the appeals of two convicts in a stalking case and upholding their six month’s jail.
It said there was no reason to disbelieve the statement of the 21-year-old woman, who was stalked in 2013 by her two classmates. There was no reason for her to falsely implicated them in the case, it added.
Stalking is an offence where a person willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and it entails a maximum punishment of three years jail for first offence and five years for subsequent crime.
It said refusal to act on the testimony of a victim of sexual assault in the absence of corroboration as a rule amounts to “adding insult to injury” and asked why should the evidence of the woman who complained of stalking or molestation be viewed with doubt, disbelief or suspicion?
Terming Delhi one of the “most dangerous” cities for women in recent times, the court said the acts of rude and continuous staring of body parts, ogling, lewd remarks and gestures, filthy jokes and brushing against a female’s body are the things which women in the city face all the time.
The court further said while stalking essentially reflects a personality disorder of the perpetrator, it tends to put the victim and his/her family at a high mental and physical risk at the hands of the offender.
“A potential stalker if not treated in time can cause serious physical and mental harm to the victim and any kind of soft approach by the court can be dangerous and fatal for the victim,” it said.
“Usually instances of stalking which do not involve physical assault go unreported. It is only when a stalker poses a potential threat to the victim that the family approaches the law enforcement agencies and the courts.”
The judge further said that keeping in view the rise in number of reported cases in the recent past, the courts were expected to seriously and sternly deal with it since there was ample evidence in the studies conducted internationally which show that behaviour of perpetrator often tends to escalate and he becomes more obsessed and dangerous resulting into many a women being wounded or murdered.