I’m going to post this article on the website now. I am hoping that I do not go to prison in a few weeks time. However, if that is the case then I’m hoping that this article highlights the major flaws in the 1997 Harassment Act amendments and the impact that it has had on people like my self that have traits of their disability which affects their social interaction. I do respect British law (I follow everything that my abilities allow me to do). However, I have done some extensive research over the last 5 years (and on and off before that) on the affects it’s had on those that do not deserve to be labelled as a criminal. I’m also not condoning malicious acts that those with disabilities have done because I am the kind of person that believes someone should be punished if they do something intentionally in malice to another. Sympathy should not be given for deliberate acts against another. I can only focus on parts of my research in depth otherwise this article will turn into a book.
The Act itself was amended because there were many incidents going on at the time where the victims of stalking were hassled and bullied previously before they were unfortunately murdered by the same offender. The police were saying that they could not legally take any action until it was effectively too late. At this point the government in power consisted of former Prime Minister Tony Blair (having previously been a lawyer). His attitude throughout any policies made by his government was ‘zero tolerance’. The zero tolerance attitudes are technically giving an open forum for discrimination in many forms. I have the up-most sympathy with the victim’s families that led to this law change. But, I cannot stand by and see how flawed this has made our system for those of us with disabilities that weren’t intentionally trying to do anything with malicious intent. It is a complete myth that the most likely ones to harass and commit murder are those with any form of mental related illness. I cannot deny that there have been cases involving those factors. However, it is not as common as ignorance has led us to believe. There are also several quite frightening cases where the victim was stalked for months without knowing (as they did not make contact) and subsequently was murdered by the ‘silent stalker’. As a female, I feel strongly that sexual harassment laws are correct in terms of ‘no touching without permission’. There is nothing worse than some persistent male at any form of social occasion trying to put his arms around you and pinching your behind. It feels degrading for a woman to experience these disrespectful actions and is downright rude. The old fashioned chauvinistic attitudes from males will always exist (especially in the older generation). They’re not right, but everyone has their opinions. Racism, sexism, ableism, ageism and homophobic views can never be completely stamped out. Opinions of a variety of individuals are always going to differ from one end of the scale to the other.
The fact that they’ve grouped stalking and harassment together now is quite unhelpful for those that would never stalk someone (quite frankly we have better things to do with our time and others aren’t all that interesting). It is common for those of us with Autism to have special interests. I find other people fascinating in a broad, none exclusive way. Despite my Autism, I have always been deeply interested in aspects of Psychology and Social Justice related topics (part of the reason why I’ve done this research). I have the inbuilt desire to help other people. I’m one of the few people left that genuinely care about others in this society.
The law applies to everyone. This is in fact not a helpful fact of life within society. Equality means that there is an extreme rigid matter of fact thinking applied within our criminal justice system. This puts more pressure and stress on those people that come into contact with the legal system because of their circumstances. Those circumstances are not always easy to escape from or change. The amount of restraining orders given out by courts (especially magistrates) connected with this law (and others) has increased year by year. This is creating a somewhat divided society, rather than encouraging people to work together to solve issues.
The United Kingdom no longer has community spirit. The times when the community used to be close knit sadly no longer exists in most areas. Recently, it has taken tragic events for the country to pull together. This community spirit will only be temporary though. The enacted laws are practically dividing up communities and causing upheaval for the most vulnerable that need support and understanding, rather than punishment. In regards to Autistic Meltdowns (which causes a substantial amount of conflict with the legal system). If there was more community spirit and support within society where people actually worked together rather than against each other, then that would reduce potentially damaging meltdowns due to stress (mostly due to conflicting information because others aren't working 'together').