#TalkingStalking: Survivors Join Tharoor to Say ‘Enough Is Enough’
Through our campaign #TalkingStalking, The Quint is taking steps to ensure that stalking is made a non-bailable offence. Watch our event which was organised to garner support.
In the #TalkingStalking event organised by The Quint on Wednesday, 20 December, Dr Shashi Tharoor said that “supporting the cause was a no-brainer” and that even if his Private Member’s Bill that calls for stalking to be made a non-bailable offence does not get passed, it will be “heard and create awareness”.
The event was organised to spread the word about the Private Member's Bill that The Quint helped in drafting, in association with Tharoor and senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal, and with inputs from Karuna Nundy. Stalking survivors Varnika Kundu and Laxmi were also present at the #TalkingStalking event.
Speaking at the event, Tharoor said that "now is the time to talk about stalking", and that stalkers in India have a "sense of impunity" as it is a bailable offence.
He urged everyone to approach the Minister of Women and Child Welfare Maneka Gandhi, as the Bill would be more effective if introduced as a government bill.
Tharoor added that those who were stopping the Bill from passing were "insulting" the Varnikas and Lashmis of our society.
“A Massive Lacuna”
Advocate Karuna Nundy, who was a panellist at the event, spoke about how our current laws don't allow for a restraining order to be put against stalkers or stalking to be treated as a non-bailable offence.
She added that people should learn to respect a "no".
She added that when the Stalking Bill failed in 2013, it led to many women being killed, raped and attacked by acid.
Geeta Namisan, the director of Women's Resource Centre, Jagori said:
“Why Lose Freedom Because of Stalking?”
Addressing the audience, Varnika Kundu said that it is important that we teach everyone not to just respect women's safety, but also respect women's freedom. She urged women to enrol in martial arts classes and said that has it helped her get out of stalking situations.
Kundu took on Vikas Barala, the son of Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party President Subhash Barala, and his friend Ashish Kumar for stalking her, while she was returning from work late at night.
“He Changed My Face, Not My Heart”
In 2005, 15-year-old Laxmi Agarwal survived an acid attack after she turned down the advances of a man who stalked her for two and a half years.
What Is This All About?
Nearly everyday, we hear, see and experience stalking. And despite reportage of these harrowing incidents, stalking has remained a bailable offence under the Indian Penal Code, so far. This allows stalkers to get bail without serious scrutiny, often putting the victims at further risk, including acid attacks and murder.
So here's how we at The Quint are taking steps to ensure that stalking is made a non-bailable offence.
The Quint has partnered with MP Shashi Tharoor and senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal, with inputs from advocate Karuna Nundy and Professor Mrinal Satish from NLU Delhi, to propose an amendment to Indian criminal law that will make stalking a Non-Bailable Offence.
We have assisted Dr Tharoor with drafting a Private Member’s Bill which has been submitted to the Lok Sabha for consideration in the Winter Session.
We organised a small event to garner support for this measure to ensure the success of the Bill and raise awareness about it. Laxmi and Varnika Kundu, who’ve suffered harrowing experiences at the hands of stalkers, will be a part of the panel. Eminent lawyer Karuna Nundy will talk about her experiences with the deficiencies of India’s law on stalking, and Dr Shashi Tharoor will talk about how Parliament is obligated to ensure the law is effective and why he thinks this Bill will help.
Quint NEON and The Quint have been running a campaign called #TalkingStalking wherein we’re encouraging women and men to talk about instances of being stalked.
After receiving an overwhelming response, we decided to move our campaign towards figuring out a solution for stalking and giving victims some sort of protection. We have also worked with Varnika Kundu to put out a petition on Change.org urging other MPs to support the Bill and spread the word – this petition currently has over 1,30,000 signatures, and we expect even more, showing the widespread support that this proposal has.