Stalk­ing rises due to lax laws

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Family - By KIM SO-HYUN

A MAN called the emer­gency po­lice hot­line early one morn­ing in Korea, ask­ing po­lice to check on the girl­friend he could not reach, say­ing she may have killed her­self.

When the of­fi­cers called the woman, how­ever, she told them that she was not home and that she has never tried to kill her­self.

She said she had bro­ken up with the man two days prior.

When of­fi­cers asked the man what was go­ing on, he an­swered, “I just wanted to see her be­cause she wouldn’t take my calls. I thought the po­lice might help open the door (of her home) or con­firm where she was.”

With­out rules on pun­ish­ment against such ac­tions, of­fi­cers let him go with a warn­ing.

Un­der the law on pun­ish­ment of mi­nor of­fenses, or con­sis­tent ha­rass­ment, any per­son who re­quests a meet­ing or date by con­sis­tently at­tempt­ing to ap­proach an­other per­son, or watches, fol­lows or se­cretly waits for some­one against the ex­plicit will of that per­son can be pun­ished with a fine not ex­ceed­ing 100,000 won (RM370), or by mis­de­meanor im­pris­on­ment.

“The man’s acts were close to stalk­ing, but the po­lice can book him only if such acts are re­peated. We let him go be­cause it was his first such re­port,” a po­lice of­fi­cer said.

Gen­der vi­o­lence ex­perts say po­lice should check on whether the man con­tin­ued to con­sis­tently ha­rass the woman, as such acts of­ten de­velop into more se­ri­ous crimes.

They stress the ur­gent need for stalk­ing-re­lated leg­is­la­tion to pre­vent and pun­ish such crimes, as well as to warn peo­ple who could po­ten­tially be­come stalk­ers.

Had there been a law on pre­ven­tion of stalk­ing, the po­lice would have checked the se­cu­rity cam­eras be­cause they need to see if it was a case of stalk­ing, said Lee Su-jeong, a pro­fes­sor of crim­i­nal psy­chol­ogy at Ky­onggi Univer­sity.

This per­son at­tempted to take ad­van­tage of law en­force­ment for stalk­ing pur­poses be­cause there is no re­lated law.

A bill on pre­ven­tion of stalk­ing was first pro­posed at the Na­tional As­sem­bly in 1999.

Nearly 20 years have passed, but the pun­ish­ment of stalk­ers still re­mains a fine of up to 100,000 won (RM370).

Cur­rently, six re­lated bills are pend­ing at the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

The Jus­tice Min­istry made an ad­vance leg­is­la­tion no­tice for a law on pun­ish­ment of stalk­ing un­der which such crim­i­nals can face a jail term of up to three years and fine of up to 30 mil­lion won (RM110,000).

How­ever, it will be next year be­fore the leg­is­la­tion comes into ef­fect, as the Na­tional As­sem­bly has been work­ing on the nec­es­sary steps since May.

Stalk­ing crimes in­creased about 1.5-fold over a three-year pe­riod, from 297 in 2014 to 436 last year, ac­cord­ing to po­lice statis­tics. The fig­ures do not in­clude as­sault or rape that took place dur­ing acts of stalk­ing.

Ex­perts say there are likely more cases that went un­re­ported. – The Korea Her­ald/Asia News Net­work


Korean laws do not give vic­tims ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion from stalk­ers, leav­ing them pow­er­less to stop the ha­rass­ment.

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