Anti-Stalking Legislation
Anti-stalking legislation has been passed in all states in the United States since 1990. Anti-stalking legislation recognizes stalking behavior as wrong and creates the awareness that stalking is a form of domestic violence or violence against women. Stalking provisions allow prosecutors to add additional charges and can, in some cases, prevent violence by criminalizing behavior that would otherwise not be actionable.
 
Laws on stalking vary from state to state and country to country. Minnesota’s statutes on stalking[1] do not require proof of the stalker’s intent to cause fear. When proof of the stalker’s intent in mandatory for a conviction it is much harder in many cases to adequately and legally protect the victim. The United Kingdom, in passing the Protection of Freedoms (PoF) Act 2012, amended the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to create the specific charge of stalking in their criminal code. Previously prosecuted as harassment, stalking behaviors are now defined as a crime, with examples of such behavior listed.[2] It is important to consult stalking laws in either the state[3] or country[4] where the stalking is taking place. If a victim is considering taking legal action, she may want to find and consult with a victim support network or advocate[5][6]. Options include obtaining an Order for Protection, or if the victim and abuser are not intimate or formerly intimate partners, a Harassment Restraining Order. Orders for Protection may prohibit the stalker from contacting the victim through a third party, such as a friend or family member.
 
 At the same time, however, the passage of such laws does not affect the underlying problem of men's violence toward women. Nor do such laws eliminate the obstacles—prosecutorial inaction, light sentences, suspended sentences—that women face in gaining protection from violence. Advocates argue that for anti-stalking legislation to be effective, these laws must be combined with training programs to educate participants in the medical, law enforcement, and legal communities as well as with policies and protocols to improve the consistency and efficacy of the responses of these communities.[7]


[1] The Office of the Revisor of Statutes. “2012 Minnesota Statutes.” Accessed June 17, 2013. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.749.
[2] Gov.UK. “Circular: a change to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997”. Last Modified October 16, 2012.https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-change-to-the-protection-from-harassment-act-1997-introduction-of-two-new-specific-offences-of-stalking
[3] National Conference of State Legislatures. “State Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Laws.” Last modified on November 16, 2012. http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/telecom/cyberstalking-and-cyberharassment-laws.aspx.
[4] Stalking Risk Profile. “International Law.” Accessed June 17, 2013. https://www.stalkingriskprofile.com/what-is-stalking/stalking-legislation/international-legislation.
[5] Network for Surviving Stalking, “Welcome to Network for Surviving Stalking.” Accessed July 23, 2013.http://www.nss.org.uk/
[6] The Advocates for Human Rights. “Victim Protection, Support and Assistance”. Last modified on February 2, 2006. http://www.stopvaw.org/victim_protection_support_and_assistance