At least 165 women being pursued by stalkers have taken refuge at temporary public shelters set up for women since fiscal 2012, according to a nationwide survey.
The health ministry started directing women’s shelters to accept stalking victims in fiscal 2011, which ended in March. They took in 27 victims in fiscal 2012 and 88 in 2013. As of September, the figure for fiscal 2014 stood at 50.
The shelters saw their profile rise in 2013 after they were newly designated as support centers for female victims under the revised stalker law. But a Kyodo News survey of all 47 prefectures found 11 who said their shelters will probably not be able to handle a further increase in people who need counseling or protection, due to staff shortages and lack of know-how.
Some of those 11 prefectures pointed to the problem of the shelters not being equipped to deal with male stalking victims.
Of the other 36 prefectures, 27 said they were well prepared to accept more victims.
The survey, conducted in September, received responses from all 47 prefectural governments, but some declined to reveal the number of victims who were given shelter or said they did not collect such data.
Fourteen prefectures said they believe it is necessary to expand the support system by establishing specialized consultation services for victims, while 45 said more proactive measures were needed, such as by encouraging stalkers to get examined by psychiatrists.