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LETTER TO EDITOR  
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 92-93
Do we need a law in India for stalking?


Consultant Psychiatrist, Parmar Plaza Clinic, E-10, Parmar Plaza, Shivarkar Road, Fatimanagar, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication3-Apr-2012
 

How to cite this article:
Netto IS. Do we need a law in India for stalking?. Indian J Psychiatry 2012;54:92-3

How to cite this URL:
Netto IS. Do we need a law in India for stalking?. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 Feb 26];54:92-3. Available from: http://www.indianjpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2012/54/1/92/94658


Sir,

Melroy and Gothard have defined stalking as the wilful, malicious, and repeated following or harassing of another person that threatens his or her safety. [1]

The types of stalkers that have been described are the "classic" erotomanic stalker (who usually targets public figures), the non-domestic stalker (who comes to know the victim through social contact or a casual meeting in a public place), and the domestic stalker who stalks after a real relationship with the victim has fallen apart. [2] Sometimes stalking may be of a brief duration or of a long duration of many years.

Stalkers usually suffer from psychotic disorders or severe personality disorders. Psychotic stalkers usually show primary erotomania, schizophrenia, and mood disorders. Those with severe personality disorders have narcissistic, borderline, or antisocial personality disorders. Many also have associated substance abuse disorders. [3]

Usually, the victims of stalkers are not aware of the stalker's identity and there are some rare cases of false allegations of being stalked.

The prevalence of stalking of health care professionals is increasing. Some of the strategies to prevent victimization are preservation of privacy and security, maintaining professional boundaries, informing colleagues and relevant parties, transferring of patient's care to another doctor, and considering legal action. [4]

Many such victims of stalkers change their jobs, move location, have secret telephone numbers, invest in house alarms, and carry weapons or firearms to protect themselves. Some develop post-traumatic stress disorders after a period of intense suffering.

The stalking behavior is in the nature of harassment. Typically, stalking behavior includes the following the victim and entering the victim's home. They persecute their victims by unwanted advances, frequent telephone calls, letters, email, mobile messages, graffiti, notes, and gifts. Severely aggressive behavior can lead to assault, kidnapping, and even murder sometimes of the love object but at other times of an acquaintance seen as a rival.

Both stalkers and victims need special treatments. Erotomanic psychotic stalkers are usually not willing to take medication, and legal measures such as involuntary detention, trespassing orders, and street prohibitions are more effective. The stalkers with severe personality disorders may benefit from a combination of legal and psychotherapeutic interventions.

Stalking behavior has been discussed predominantly in the Anglo-American psychiatric literature. In Germany, appropriate laws for stalking such as the harassment protection act are being examined. [5] In the state of Massachusetts, stalking is a punishable offence.

Recently, in India, a high ranking government official was a victim of staking. This led to the erotomanic stalker being sent for psychiatric evaluation. The stalker took legal action against the government official. During the court proceedings, it was brought to light that there were no laws for stalking in India.

Hence, penal, legal, and mental health professional should be made aware of the psychiatric aspects of stalking and its appropriate management.

Considering the safety of the victims and the need for psychiatric intervention of the stalker, it is appropriate that laws for stalking should be laid down in the India.

 
   References Top

1.Meloy JR, Gothard S. Demographic and clinical comparison of obsessional followers and offenders with mental disorders. Am J Psychiatry 1995;152:258-63.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Wright JA, Burgess AG, Burgess AW, McCrary GO, Douglas JE. Investigating stalking crimes. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv 1995;33:38-43.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Kamphuis JH, Emmelkamp PM. Stalking: A contemporary challenge for forensic and clinical psychiatry. Br J Psychiatry 2000;176:206-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Pathé MT, Mullen PE, Purcell R. Patients who stalk doctors: Their motives and management. Med J Aust 2002;176:335-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Kamleiter M, Laakmann G. Stalking-relevance for clinical practice and jurisdiction. Psychiatr Prax 2003;30:152-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
    

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Correspondence Address:
Ivan S Netto
Consultant Psychiatrist, Parmar Plaza Clinic, E-10, Parmar Plaza, Shivarkar Road, Fatimanagar, Pune, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.94658

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