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Taking stock of stalking

india Updated: May 22, 2013 09:54 IST
Amrita U Kadam

Ever been followed desperately by some man or a woman on the road, got stalked online or been getting irritating crank calls? Do not fall prey to them even if they show interest in you as these stalkers might be mentally ill.

We Care For You, a special cell for women which works under the police department in the city gets at least three to four such cases every day.

"Most cases are those where people follow their ex-lovers. They often keep changing their numbers and call the victim. There are some who suffer from a psychological disorder and their target keeps changing," said We Care For You in-charge Anita Dhawle.

In one such case, Ahaana (name changed) was followed by her lover's ex- girlfriend as the latter thought Ahaana was the reason behind her break-up.

Such a stalker is called a 'resentful stalker' who is offended by someone and then tries to harass the other person.

"They are often revengeful and keep a track of the other person's activities. They are obsessed and do not have any control over their behaviour," said Indore-based psychologist Swati Prasad.

Talking about the personality traits of stalkers, psychologist Ajay Sharma says, "They are anti- social and they often have this belief that by confronting someone everyday they can make the other person fall in love with them."

One of the patients who visited Prasad's clinic disclosed how she fell in love with her neighbor who followed her for five years. She initially ignored him, but was soon impressed by his 'dedication'.

They exchanged numbers, became friends and eventually the man raped her.

"These stalkers generally experience sadistic pleasure in following people and they are not the ones who look for stable relationships. They are always on a lookout," said Prasad.

Apart from psychological disorders these stalkers can be characterised as people who suffer from hyper sexuality and hence keep stalking the vulnerable lot.

Experts further define these stalkers as those men or women who do not have a career to pursue, who have no identity, who want to take revenge, and those who do not get any importance in their families.

What to do?
Inform friends or family
Do not entertain stalkers
Report if the stalking is of serious nature
Never stop at isolated locations to confront the stalkers

Types of stalkers
Rejected Stalker- Often follows ex-lover
Resentful stalker- Usually seeks revenge
Predatory stalker- Plans to attack the survivor, usually sexually
Intimacy seeker- Seeks a loving relationship with the target
Incompetent suitor- Infatuated by the target
Erotomania- Believe that the target loves them, mostly seen in cases of celebrity crazy fans.

Legally speaking
In 2013, Parliament amended the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and classified stalking as a criminal offence.

Stalking has been defined as a man who follows or contacts a woman, despite clear indication of disinterest to such contact by the woman, or monitoring of use of internet or electronic communication of a woman.

A man committing the offence of stalking would be liable for imprisonment up to three years for the first offence, and shall also be liable to fine and for any subsequent conviction would be liable for imprisonment up to five years and with fine.