Note: The article is not to decide on any matter. It’s just about the questions and this dilemma that haunts me.
Movies have a great impact today, and this is especially true for the youths of the country. Many Indian movies, mainly love stories, are male-centric thanks to patriarchal values. These movies portray a common theme – follow a girl you like and then convince her to accept the proposal, despite repeated indications of disinterestedness by the girl.
Consider the following two situations:
A boy fell in love with a girl and wants to marry her; so he approaches her; she is not interested; he approached her again and finally convinced the girl to marry him.
A boy fell in love with a girl and wants to marry her; so he approaches her; she is not interested; he approached her again but he could not convince her to marry him; so he killed her.
Similar situations here lead to two different ends. If these situations were to be made as a movie, the first will be perceived by the audience as a romance that glorifies the value of love. The second will be perceived as a thriller, where a boy stalked and killed a girl. This difference in perception has two reasons:
The audience is most cases are already aware of the kind of movie they are going to watch. We were aware that the stalker (hero) of the movie will not harm the girl because he was a hero. We usually sympathize with the protagonist.
But in both the cases above, the girls are subjected to stalking as per law (means) till the end, and based on the end we decide on the situation. But in real life means are more important than ends, because ends are unpredictable and ends are irreversible
No one knows what will happen to the girls in both situations. How can we expect every stalker to be a hero in real life?
What will happen if the stalker in real life turned a sudden villain to the girl? This results in threats to the girl! Acid attack! Abuses! And a lot more!
Stalking as a crime added in criminal laws of India after the 2013 Criminal Amendment Act passed by the Justice Verma Committee due to the increasing number of crimes against modesty of women in society. Stalking should not be gender biased but in our country stalking is held only in cases of men stalking women (The article not going to discuss this issue). Section 354 D defines the crime of stalking. According to Section 354 D of the Indian Penal Code, Stalking means and includes, “Any man who —
follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offense of stalking.”
There are some exceptions. For instance, it does not amount to stalking if a man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State.
So, here comes the Love-Stalking dilemma.
The law says that following a woman after a clear indication of disinterest by such women amounts to stalking. But movies and love stories show us the opposite i.e., one can follow a girl and convince her to accept the proposal. If she was convinced, stalking here takes the form of love. There are also movies where the heroines themselves are depicted to want to get stalked by the hero.
They want the hero to follow her until they accept the proposal. It is quite obvious that youths learn the means to express love through movies because youths perceive heroes and heroines as the representation of society. But this concept of approaching a girl amounts to stalking as per Indian law and cyberstalking as defined in law, today is more prevalent.
In 2018, India reported a stalking case every 55 minutes. But the actual number may be still higher. Because not all will complain to the police and as mentioned above, if the girl was convinced, then stalking was not recognized. Clearly following a girl even after a repeated refusal is a crime because it violates human rights and it goes against the interest of a girl, a human being with dignity. But in many cases, love involves stalking, which was unrecognized just because the story ends happily.
So the questions that we need answers to as today’s youth are:
Should one stalk to love?
What is the thin line that separates stalking and love?
How can one express love without stalking?
Comment if you have answers for any or all of these questions.
Feature image is for representational purposes only.