The ‘Unassuming Male Gaze’ is an Offence that Needs all our Attention
Meloy and Gothard have defined stalking as the willful, malicious and repeated following or harassing of another person that threatens his or her safety.
Stalking is the most prevalent, but unfortunately overlooked form of sexual harassment. Thanks to the recent celebrity victim – Sachin Tendulkar’s daughter Sara who has been stalked by a man from West Bengal. According to the reports by The Asian Age, the accused, Debkumar Maity was arrested and brought under custody by the Mumbai police. The Bandra police have booked him under Section 354(D), 507 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, which pertain to stalking, criminal intimidation by anonymous communication and word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.
While the action taken for this case was pretty quick for obvious reasons, stalking is an offence that needs all our attention. Quoting TOI’s report;
- 20 December 2017- Twenty-three-year-old Sandhya Rani was returning home from work totally unaware of what was awaiting her on the way. After persistently stalking her for spurning his advances, the suspect Karthik, threw petrol and set her ablaze in full public view. She succumbed to her injuries the next day.
- On December 29, Khar police station in Mumbai filed a case on an Angel investor for stalking and sexual harassment of a Delhi woman, eight months after she filed a complaint with the National Commission for Women (NCW).
- A 17-year old girl from Ballia district in eastern Uttar Pradesh was murdered by four boys by slitting her throat in August 2017
- In November 2017, a woman techie in Chennai died of burns after she was set on fire by a man who was stalking her.
Stalking in most of the cases has paved the path for rape, murder and brutal killing.
By the way, this, unfortunately, is a list that will go on and on. This is the state of stalking in our country. To put an end to it, victims need to step out and report. Stalking in most of the cases has paved the path for rape, murder and brutal killing.
The general mindset about stalking is that “Boys are young and do things just for fun. There is nothing so serious about. Boys will always remain boys. Wild, fun and adventurous” says Simran Khosla, a sophomore from Delhi. She adds, “Women are constantly told not to walk about late, walk on isolated roads or wear short (provoking) clothes. What needs to be taught to women right is to report small cases which make them feel insecure. Being stalked is a scary feeling. It’s not a joke and it’s time everyone accepts this fact”.
Further, the mindset is that stalking is not such a big thing that deserves our attention. It’s become normalized and in fact, women are blamed for assuming male gaze. The unassuming male gaze by men makes the job enough difficult. Men don’t recognize it as an offence. Moreover, popular depiction of it make men think that they are “too cool to be a Romeo”.
Popular culture should glorify good and progressive morals rather than a symbolic representation of stalking as romance.
What many women fail to recognise is that they have been guaranteed protection under the law. According to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, Stalking takes place when any man who:
- follows a woman and contacts, or
- attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly against the will of the women, or
- monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication.
Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code deals with stalking as an offence and provides for punishment. Punishment for Stalking:
- on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to a fine.
- and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to a fine.
According to National Crime Bureau data, over 80 percent of the people accused of stalking are given bail before the charge sheet is filed. That’s because stalking is a bailable offence. In many cases when the stalkers are let out on bail, the harassment gets worse. Also, there have been instances of acid attacks, rapes, and even murders. Imagine the after effects when the offender gets bail and roams free. Naturally, he would want to target the person again and inflict pain and violence. This is exactly why it should become a non-bailable offence.
What are your thoughts?
( Picture Credit: Reuters)
Reshma Ganeshbabu is an intern with SheThePeople.TV