chapter  12
22 Pages

Stalking

ByLorraine Sheridan, Graham M. Davies

Although stalking was labelled by the British media as ‘the crime of the 1990s’ (e.g. Daly 1996), it did not represent a new form of deviant behaviour (e.g. Meloy 1999; Mullen et al. 2000). Despite many academic articles stating that stalking was first outlawed by California in 1990, it appears that Californian law had an ancient precedent. Book four of the Ancient Roman legal tome Institutes of Justinianus (approximately ad 550) contains the passage Iniuria commititur … si quis matrem familias aut praetextatum praetextatumve adsectatus fuerit which roughly translated means that it is prohibited to inflict injury or cause hindrance by following a boy, girl or married woman. Neither is stalking behaviour new to popular fiction. Louisa May Alcott’s nineteenth-century novel A Long Fatal Love Chase also bears a strong resemblance to many contemporary accounts of stalking. John Fowles’ first novel The Collector (1963) features a young art student who is obsessively pursued by an inadequate older man. He observes her every activity, moves house in order to be closer to her, and engages in photographic surveillance before finally entrapping her and holding her hostage. What is new is the frequency of such behaviour, perhaps encouraged by the greater empowerment and emancipation of women and ready access to mechanisms of surveillance and control, such as mobile phones and e-mail. Stalking is now a criminal act in most countries of the developed world.