• How Phone Romeos Can Make Life Hell: Women Share Stories

    With more and more telecom companies reducing their tariffs, India is witnessing an unprecedented growth in the number of phone users. While this revolution has been facilitating many lives, there is one stratum of the society bearing the brunt of this so-called era of seamless communication. Women, across different age-groups, are being targeted by “Phone Romeos”. These are men who use their cellphones as ‘Digital Cupids’. Their hunt for a soulmate continues via calls and other forms of messaging services.

    According to a report, phone recharging outlets are selling the numbers of young women to interested men, charging Rs 500 for a “beautiful” girl and Rs 50 for an “ordinary” one

    Anchal Goswami, pursuing her M.A in Gender Studies, tells SheThePeople.Tv that she was in class X when a “wrong number” bothered her to an extent that she broke down in front of her parents. “I was a teenager back then. I was clueless about how people could misuse phones to stalk others. Someone contacted me. He mistook me to be ‘Sonia’. I clarified his doubt and was about to disconnect, when he started forcing me to reveal my personal details. I hung up. But he started calling me 10 times a day.”

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    With no option of blocking a call in those days, Anchal was in a grip of fear.

    “I was out one day with my school friends. He called up again to inform that he was aware of my whereabouts. He would plead with me to meet him someday. Sending abusive messages was another way he irritated me.”

    Manisha Sahni, an aspiring educator, blames lack of awareness associated with phone use that causes these problems. “Being approached by a stranger on phone was something I hadn’t dealt with before. I wasn’t sure if informing my mother about it was the right thing to do. He would call at night and talk about random stuff in a tone I hated. My mother confronted me one day. I lied to her that it is an old friend of mine.”

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    After it became difficult for her to tolerate any more nuisance, she told her mother about the stalker. The duo approached police authorities.”They told us that many girls had complained against the same person. He was caught. But I still got my number changed to ensure my safety,” she added.

    Asha Singh, a mother of two children living in Delhi, tells SheThePeople.TV that these lecherous men looking for love do not taken into account the woman’s age and her relationship status. Despite warning them of dire consequences, the shameless creature continued to irk her.

    “Those days were nightmarish for me. I had indirectly informed him that I am a mother of two children and least interested in his proposal but he was too adamant to listen. It was when I lied to him that my husband works in police that he finally stopped calling me up.”

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    Twinkle Chopra, pursuing Economics from Delhi University, feels that  Whatsapp is the most unsafe way of communicating. She realized this when she joined a Personality Development class where she was asked to share her number so that a Whatsapp group of all the students could be created.

    “The group had ten people with whom I used to study. It was a short course. I didn’t interact with anyone much but a Whatsapp group meant that everyone could see my contact details even if I was reluctant to share with them. It has been three years and some people from the group still message me on random occasions.”

    Ayushi Goel, a foreign language student of Delhi University, says that women need to adopt tactics to get from such problems.

    “There was a person who used to call me up on the pretext of talking to someone else. I made it very clear to him that I wasn’t related to that person in any way. He would still call up every day. One day, I bluntly told him that the person he wanted to speak to had passed away and warned him not to call up again.”

    While apps like “Truecaller” and other blocking features available in phones have made it easier to get away with phone stalkers, the government should devise some strong methods to catch hold of such men.

    Read Also: Women, Safety and The Virtual World

    Charvi Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV