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-Anoushka Manidhar

While stalking is a rampantly followed activity in India, we thought the rich were probably safe and secure from this bane due to the enormous security that they travel with. However, it seems that even the rich haven’t been spared from being stalked despite their security entourage.
Recently, a 32-year-old man was arrested on January 07, 2018 for harassing and allegedly stalking Sara Tendulkar, the daughter of former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
The stalker has finally been identified by the police as Debkumar Maity, who is an unemployed college dropout from West Bengal’s Midnapur district.
The man had apparently not just made several phone calls to Tendulkar residence but also lewd comments about Sara. He also threatened to kidnap the cricketer’s daughter meanwhile expressing his desire to marry her.
Debkumar told the police that he “fell in love” with Sara when he saw her on TV sitting at the pavilion during a match, however, has never seen her in person.
After Sara Tendulkar filed a complaint with the Bandra Police in Mumbai against this harassment, the police began their investigation and arrested the man, first producing him before a Haldia court. The police have also found a diary from his house which has Sara’s name written in it and in which Debkumar has addressed her as his wife.

Debkumar’s family has claimed that he is mentally unstable and they have no idea how he got involved in this case. He used to torture his parents at home too and had recently lost his father. They also informed that he has been undergoing medical treatment for his condition since last eight years. The police are still investigating how he managed to get the landline number of their residence.

The unfortunate thing is that this is not the first time that Indian girls and women have been subjected to such harassment. Over the past several years, the country has seen its women being stalked, harassed, raped, molested and tortured more often than most other countries.
In September 2016, a 21-year-old woman in Delhi was stabbed to death in broad daylight by a man who had been stalking her for months.
In October the same year, a 34-year-old beautician was brutally assaulted and stabbed to death by her stalker.
Chennai’s horrific Swati-murder case which made national headlines started with a stalker following the victim daily. Chennai reported two other such incidents last year alone.
In Bengaluru’s molestation case that’s being regarded as ‘India’s shame’, it has been established that the woman was being stalked by the same men before it escalated to molestation.

Are we able to notice a pattern here?

Stalking is just the initial stage; the assaulter’s ultimate intention could be molestation or rape
Stalking is an activity that needs to be nipped in the bud before the assaulter’s gets a chance to take it any further. If the girls don’t come forward and complain, they will be sending out signals of weakness and the stalkers will only get bolder. Girls should just rely on their gut instinct, they need not wait for days or weeks to observe a pattern.
If you feel like you are being stalked? You are being stalked. That’s it. Just report the case as soon a possible.

Women need to issue stern warnings to their stalkers, even in cases when they are calling you from unknown numbers. In fact, most of the callers don’t even know the age of the women they’re stalking. And this makes it even more important for the police to be involved.

Stalking debilitates the victim’s psychological and social well-being: stalking is sexual harassment and nothing lesser.
When being stalked, girls live in constant fear of the stalker. Stalking is a tool to test the waters. When the girl doesn’t confront, the stalker’s confidence grows. They begin to approach them, like try to strike up a conversation or even ask for phone number. This is when most girls decide to resist the advances. And that is when the stalking turns to physical assault and even sexual assault. In many cases girls stop stepping out of their homes, fearing their stalkers. Living in fear constantly, the victims become vulnerable to anxiety, depression-related mental illnesses.

Statistics indicate that the number of stalking cases being reported is rising. In 2014, 4,699 cases of stalking were recorded by NCRB followed by a total of 6,266 complaints in 2015. However, the conviction rates remain very low. In 2014, 35% of cases led to convictions. And in 2015, only 26% of stalking cases ended in a conviction. This is the result of the unwillingness of the victims to register formal complaints.
The conviction rates are low because most victims do not testify and leave the case half-way or better still nowadays only speak to the media but never report to the law enforcement authorities. Let’s say, even if the police are insensitive, abandoning the case midway does not serve any purpose. We can end this, only if we fight back. A change will come, only when we will become the change.

Stalking is passive-aggressive in nature and even if you think that it is not physically harmful, it could turn so soon enough. Here are a few ways you can recognise a stalker…

It is probably someone you know
According to statistics, more than 80% of the time, the stalker is someone you probably know.
Look out for signs. See if someone is following you while you are going to work or getting back home. If possible, do not take the same route every day.

Will try to instil fear in you
The basic aim of a stalker is to try and scare you. They may try to prove their power over you by their actions. They will try to increase their proximity to you. However, instead of getting scared, you must be brave and call for help in case you sense danger. Don’t wait for him to physically harm you.

You might get constant calls or messages
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you — the stalker will make every possible attempt to approach you – either physically or through the virtual world. Constant messages or calls could be one sign. The other could be that you spot the same person around you whenever you are travelling alone.

What to do when you’re stalked?

  • Women must start using technology to protect themselves — instantly click a picture of the stalker, take a screen grab of the messages, post them on social media.
  • Save security apps such as the Hawk-Eye by Telangana police on your home screen and enable their emergency features.
  • Save the local police station’s number on your mobile. If you sense someone following you, call someone and tell them your current location, or at least pretend to, loudly enough for the stalker to hear.
  • Make a noise if someone tries to forcefully touch you, approaches you and passes lewd remarks. Get as many people as you can to support you, use the crowd as a weapon of self-protection.

Dear women, change will only come when we want it to and initiate it enough. Take a stand against stalking and fight it with might.

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