Stalking – Strengthen the Laws to Protect Women in the Workplace

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2022 Virtual National Women's Conference
13 October 2021

Stalking is a behaviour that is designed to intimidate, harass, threaten and pursue an unwilling target. It can consist of harassing phone calls, following the target, contacting them repeatedly, frequently tracking their movements, and more recently, unwanted and obsessional contact on social media. It can be perpetrated by anybody but is most often carried out by men against women, either someone that they have been in a relationship with, or someone random they have picked out. The Action on Stalking (Scotland) charity uses the FOUR acronym – Frequent, obsessional, unwanted, Repeated – as a definition of stalking.

It is known that stalking can sometimes escalate to assault, rape and murder, regardless of the previous relationship between stalker and victim and cannot be treated lightly.

Women who have been stalked have experienced threats, harassment, unwanted contact at work and at home, and some have had tracking devices fitted to cars, social media, computer and phone hacking, and other forms of invasive and frightening harassment.

Data from the England/Wales Crime Survey shows up to 700,000 women are stalked each year, although there are no official statistics on cyberstalking.

Conference believes that:

Women have the right to live their lives free of fear, harassment, restrictions on the normal freedoms everyone should enjoy. This includes the right to end contact when a relationship ends without fear of recrimination or revenge.

Stalking is a form of assault which can leave victims traumatised for many years afterwards.

Stalking can be part of domestic abuse and is sometimes the first step in a process that can lead to rape and murder.

Stalking affects women in the workplace, and therefore needs to be addressed in security safety and domestic abuse policies by employers.

Conference Calls upon the National Women’s Committee:

1)To work with organisations such as Paladin, Suzy Lamplugh Trust etc, and their equivalents in the devolved nations on raising awareness of the impact of stalking on victims and their friends and family, campaigning for effective support for victims and lobbying for changes to the law to deal with perpetrators.

2) To produce up-to-date information about stalking and harassment in the workplace for branches to use when working on domestic abuse or security policies with employers.

3) To work with UNISON Labour Link to liaise with elected representatives and peers in both the Westminster Parliament and the devolved governments to raise awareness of Baroness Royall’s work to introduce legal changes to ensure offenders are automatically monitored under an existing police database. Her amendment was lost from the 2021 Domestic Abuse bill but should be revived and progressed separately.

4) To produce effective information sheets for branch-based representatives to make available to women members about their rights, and what to do if they think they may be a victim of stalking.