Women and Justice: Topics: Domestic and intimate partner violence, Stalking

Legislation

Justices Act (1959)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Stalking

The Act’s purpose is to provide means to hinder persons from committing acts of family and domestic or personal violence by imposing restraints on their behavior and activities. Under the section 106B of the Act, restraint orders can be issued against a person who has caused or has threatened to cause injury or damage to another person or property and is likely to do so again or carry out the threat, behaved in a provocative or offensive manner and is likely to do so again, or against a person who has stalked another person. The justice must be satisfied on the balance of probability that the imposed restraints are necessary or desirable to prevent further prohibited behavior. Restraint orders can be issued on an interim or final basis. A person who fails to comply with an order is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding ten penalty units or imprisonment not exceeding six months.



Criminal Code Act (1924)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape, Stalking, Statutory rape or defilement

The Criminal Code Act 1924 prohibits forced and unauthorized abortions and assaults on pregnant women, sexual violence, stalking, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation. The termination of a pregnancy by a person other than a medical practitioner or the pregnant woman herself is a crime at any stage of the pregnancy. Termination carried out without the pregnant woman’s consent is a crime if it is performed intentionally or recklessly, regardless if any other harm is inflicted on the woman. Any person who unlawfully assaults a woman, knowing that woman is pregnant, is guilty of assault on pregnant woman under section 184A of the Act. Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent is guilty of rape under section 185 of the Act. “Sexual intercourse” is defined as the penetration of a person’s vagina, genitalia, anus or mouth by a penis, the penetration of a person’s vagina, genitalia or anus by another body part or object, or the continuation of either act of penetration. “Consent” means free agreement, and does not include, among other things, if a person does not say or do anything to communicate consent.  Additionally, it is a crime to have sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 17 according to section 124 of the Act. A person is guilty of stalking if they, among other things, follow, surveille, threaten, direct abusive acts towards, communicate, send or publish offensive material, or contact another person or a third person, with intent to cause the another person physical or mental harm, including self-harm or extreme humiliation or to be apprehensive or fearful under section 192 of the Act. Under section 170A of the Act, a person commits persistent family violence in relation to another person with whom the person is, or has been, in a family relationship is guilty of persistent family violence when the accused has committed unlawful family violence on at least three occasions. Family violence includes, among other things, acts of physical, psychological and economic abuse, with the specific definitions set out in the Family Violence Act 2004. Under section 178A, any person who performs female genital mutilation on another person is guilty of a crime, regardless of custodial consent. Removing or making arrangements to remove a child from Tasmania with the intention of having female genital mutilation performed on the child is also a crime.



Criminal Offenses: Stalking (General Laws of Rhode Island)

Stalking

This statute makes it illegal to harass or to knowingly and repeatedly follow another person with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. Under the statute, stalking is a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years, by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.



Code of Virginia: Arrest without a warrant authorized in cases of assault and battery against a family or household member and stalking and for violations of protective orders; procedure, etc. (Va. Code § 19.2-81.3)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Stalking

This Virginia law allows officers to make an arrest without a warrant in certain cases of assault and battery, or stalking, against a family or household member. Instead of a warrant, the arrest must be based on probable cause, the officer’s personal observations, the officer’s investigation, or a reasonable complaint from a witness.



Code of Virginia: Stalking; penalty (Va. Code § 18.2-60.3)

Stalking

Virginia law prohibits that any person, except law enforcement officers acting in the capacity of the official duties, and registered private investigators acting in the course of their legitimate business, who on more than one occasion engages in conduct with the intent to place, or when that person knows or reasonably should know that the conduct places another person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that other person or to that other person’s family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the person contacts or follows or attempts to contact or follow the person after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed, such actions are a prima facie evidence that the person intended to place that other person, or reasonably should have known that the other person was placed, in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to himself or a family or household member.



Code of Virginia: Civil Action for Stalking (Va. Code § 8.01-42.3)

Stalking

Under Virginia law, a victim has a civil cause of action against an individual who engaged in stalking conduct prohibited under Code of Virginia § 18.2-60.3, regardless of whether the individual has been charged or convicted for the alleged violation, for the compensatory damages incurred by the victim due to the conduct plus the costs for bringing the action. A victim may also be awarded punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.



Cavanaugh v. Cavanaugh (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual harassment, Stalking

An man appealed his restraining order, which prevented him from contacting his ex-wife, arguing that the lower court did not properly establish a finding of domestic abuse despite his ex-wife’s testimony that he repeatedly used vulgar and threatening language towards her, at times placing her in fear of physical harm. The Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld the restraining order and underlying finding of domestic abuse, citing the definition of domestic abuse in Title 15, Chapter 15 of the General Laws of Rhode Island: “Among the acts specified in . . . the statute as constituting ‘domestic abuse’ is ‘stalking,’ [which means] ‘harassing another person.’” Because the court found that the ex-husband was “harassing” (and thus “stalking”) his ex-wife, the ex-husband’s conduct fell within the plain meaning of the statute defining domestic abuse. This case is important because it provides that the “unambiguous language” of Rhode Island’s domestic abuse statute does not require a finding of actual physical harm or threats of physical harm as a predicate for domestic abuse—other harassing language is enough.



Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2017 (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual harassment, Stalking

Prevent gaps in protection. An interim protection order (IPO) protects survivors during police investigation, while a protection order (PO) protects survivors during criminal court proceedings. The amendments specify when an IPO ends, and when a PO begins, so survivors won’t be left without protection between police investigations and court proceeding.Strengthen the IPO to prevent further abuse. With the amendments, an IPO can include additional safeguards, like prohibiting an abuser from coming near a survivor – so police can intervene before further violence happens.Expand the definition of domestic violence. The expanded definition will protect against: misappropriating property, which causes distress; threatening, which causes distress or fear for safety; or communicating (including electronically) with the survivor to insult modesty.Improve rehabilitation provisions. A court can no longer order a survivor to attend reconciliatory counselling with the abuser, which puts the survivor in danger. Instead, the abuser can be ordered to complete a rehabilitation programme.Recognise survivor’s right to exclusive occupancy. If a court grants a survivor occupancy of a shared residence, it must grant the survivor exclusive occupancy – not just a specified part of the residence.Keep survivors better informed. The police officer must keep survivors informed on the status of investigation, status of IPO and PO, and important court dates.Create the Emergency Protection Order (EPO). The EPO helps survivors get protection faster – EPOs are issued by social welfare officers who are easily accessible (IPOs are issued by magistrates). Survivors won’t have to make a police report to get an EPO. The EPO is valid for seven days, and protects against physical injury and fear of physical injury.


Domestic Case Law

Stephens v. Rose Supreme Court of Virginia (2014)

Stalking

The plaintiff filed a petition for a protective order against the defendant, her ex-boyfriend.  The two  ended their relationship in 2007, but from 2009 to 2012, the defendant made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to re-establish contact with the plaintiff via e-mail and social media.  In 2013, the defendant escalated his attempts, first driving to the plaintiff ’s parents’ home in Canton, Ohio, and approaching her father at 6:20 a.m. to find out where the plaintiff  was currently living.  The plaintiff’s father told the defendant not to contact the plaintiff anymore and then called 911. The plaintiff became afraid upon learning that the defendant had visited her parents’ home, asking her current boyfriend to stay with her because she was afraid to be home alone.  The defendant  began repeatedly calling and leaving voice messages for the plaintiff.  Within a one-week period, he called her 40 times.  On one occasion, the plaintiff ’s boyfriend answered the phone and told the defendant that he had the wrong number and not to call anymore.  The defendant also attempted to contact the plaintiff at her work.  Then, one day, after placing several calls between 2 and 3 A.M., the defendant showed up at the plaintiff ’s home at 7 A.M. with flowers, and the plaintiff ’s boyfriend called 911 and had him arrested. The issue before the Court was whether these acts satisfied the statutory requirements for a protective order which require an “[a]ct of violence, force, or threat.”  The Court held that stalking satisfies the requirements for a protective order even in the absence of physical harm or threatened physical harm.  The Court set forth three elements necessary to prove stalking: (1) “the defendant directed his or her conduct toward the victim on at least two occasions”; (2) “intended to cause fear or knew or should have known that his or her conduct would cause fear”; and (3) “the defendant’s conduct caused the victim ‘to experience reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury.’”  The Court held that, in this case, these three factors were satisfied and explained, with respect to the third factor, that it was sufficient that the plaintiff said that she “was scared,” because “[a] victim need not specify what particular harm she fears to satisfy the third element of stalking.”   



Sentenza N. 10959/2016 Corte de Cassazione: Sezioni Unite (Supreme Court: Joint Sections)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide, Gender-based violence in general, International law, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Stalking, Statutory rape or defilement

The Supreme Court, in deciding upon the applicability of certain procedural rules, confirmed the main international definitions of violence within gender relationships. Particularly, the local court dismissed the case against a man charged with the crimes of stalking and mistreatment in the family pursuant to articles 612-bis and 572 of the Italian Criminal Code, without giving any notice thereof to the person injured by the crime in accordance with Article 408 of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure. In deciding the case, the injured person appealed the decision of the local court and requested the Italian Supreme Court to declare the dismissal of the case null and void. In deciding the procedural issue at hand, the Italian Supreme Court pointed out that the Italian criminal law has drawn the definitions of gender violence and violence against women mainly from international law provisions, which are directly enforced in the system pursuant to Article 117 of the Constitution. In this decision the Italian Supreme Court gave all the definitions of violence within gender relationships in consideration of international conventions and specifically European law, and concluded that such definitions, even if not directly included in domestic regulations, “are fully part of our national system through international law and are therefore enforceable.” According to this interpretation, the definitions of gender violence given by the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence are directly applicable in the Italian legal framework. On this basis, the Court ruled that notice of dismissal of the case must always be served on the person injured by crimes of stalking and mistreatment in the family pursuant to articles 612-bis and 572 of the Italian Criminal Code, as those provisions relate to the gender violence notion set forth under the international and EU provisions applicable in the Italian legal framework.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 1184/14.6PIPRT.P2 Tribunal da Relação de Porto (Court of Appeal of Porto) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Stalking

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) brought charges of domestic violence against the defendant, “B” (name omitted from public record), for stalking his former girlfriend, the victim, “C” (name omitted from public record), after their relationship ended. Evidence produced during trial showed that B repeatedly sought to reconnect with C over the course of five months after the end of their relationship, which caused great anxiety and distress to C. Under Section 152 of the Portuguese Penal Code, domestic violence occurs whenever a defendant inflicts physical or psychological harm to a romantic partner or former partner. The District Court (Tribunal da Comarca) found the B not guilty of domestic violence. The Public Prosecutor appealed, and the Appellate Court (Tribunal da Relação) affirmed the District Court’s decision, holding that, although C did suffer anxiety from the attempts at contact made by B, B’s conduct was never humiliating, provocative, offensive or threatening, and therefore did not qualify as a crime of domestic violence.



2016 (Ju) No. 2076 Supreme Court of Japan (2018)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment, Stalking

The appellee, a former employee of the appellant’s subsidiary, suffered sexual harassment and stalking from an employee of the appellant’s other subsidiary who shared the same work site with the appellee. The appellant had developed a corporate-group-wide compliance system, which included a consulting desk at which an employee of the appellant or its subsidiaries could raise and discuss any compliance-related matters.  The appellee brought the harassment issue to her supervisors at her immediate employer (i.e. the appellant’s subsidiary) twice, but sufficient solutions were not provided, following which she left the company without bringing the issues to the consulting desk.  The stalking continued even after her resignation, so her former colleague who still worked at the appellant's subsidiary brought the issue before the appellant through the consulting desk, but it did not provide sufficient solutions either.  The question brought before the Supreme Court was whether the appellant (i.e. a parent company of her former immediate employer) bore the duties based on the principle of good faith to provide certain protective measures to the appellant  because it had developed the corporate-group-wide compliance system.  The Supreme Court found that the appellant was not imposed with such duties in light of particular facts in the case since the appellant did not bring the harassment issue to the consulting desk during her employment.  However, in dicta, the Court stated that a parent company, depending on particular facts of the case, can be responsible for providing sufficient solutions to an employee of its subsidiary who is a victim of sexual harassment––failure of which would result in liability for damage based on the principle of good faith––if the parent company provides a system through which the employee could, and actually did, bring an issue of sexual harassment to the parent company’s attention.



2004 (A) No. 2571 Supreme Court of Japan (2005)

Stalking

The defendant was indicted under the Stalker Regulation Law on a charge of stalking his former girlfriend. The defendant demanded many times by email and phone that she repay costs he incurred while they were dating. The defendant sent a letter to her threatening to distribute nude photos of her if she did not unblock him on her cell phone. The Supreme Court determined that, even though he sent the letter only once, his conduct amounted to “stalking” under the Stalker Regulation Law since his conduct was as a whole persistent and repetitive.



2007(A) No. 1961 Supreme Court of Japan (2008)

Stalking

The accused was charged with the act of stalking a female customer at a shopping mall, taking photographs of her buttocks in trousers with his cellular phone with a built-in digital camera from a close distance.  The court held that this act constituted an obscene act making a victim feel embarrassed or insecure under the Hokkaido Prefecture Ordinance on Prevention of Violent Public Nuisance No. 34 of 1965, which criminalizes obscene behavior.