Update Washington State's Stalking Law

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H Hiatt started this petition to Washington State Senate and

RCW 9A.46.110 addresses the crime of stalking. It specifically requires that a person be placed in fear and feels fear:

 (b) The person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person, or property of the person or of another person. The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances; and

 (c) The stalker either:

 (i) Intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person; or

 (ii) Knows or reasonably should know that the person is afraid, intimidated, or harassed even if the stalker did not intend to place the person in fear or intimidate or harass the person.

As a woman who has faced several different stalking situations, I can attest to how life-disrupting and alarming this can be. But not everyone feels fear. In time that fear can also turn to other emotions like frustration and anger.

 Stalking should be illegal, period. Its legal definition in the RCW should not include "placed in fear." That is archaic, myopic, and discriminatory even if it means well. As Jennifer Gatewood Owens said in A Gender-Biased Definition: Unintended Impacts of the Fear Requirement in Stalking Victimization, "Arguably, the fear requirement present in most states’ definitions of stalking is inherently gender-biased and should be removed, as no other type of crime is defined by an emotional response." It's also bizarre that the RCW places such an emphasis on the reaction of the victim instead of the offender's behavior.

I am asking that Washington State legislators sponsor legislation to eliminate the condition of "fear" as other states have done. It's time to modernize this. It needs to be more inclusive and equitable.

This is a non-partisan issue and the RCW is in desperate need of a logical, compassionate update. If there is an effort to modernize this already I am unaware of it.

Thank you for signing this petition. I first began contacting Washington State legislators about this last year and have yet to receive a reply. Together, regardless of our differences, we can and should move as one to make this happen.



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