Received a Lewd Message? Speak up & Report the Matter

The Delhi police arrested a young man, for tormenting around 1500 women with obscene calls and lewd messages. It was a sadistic pleasure that had apparently stemmed out of his frustration of being rejected by women in the past. He would dial random numbers and if the call was answered by a woman, the number would be saved to view their profile pictures on WhatsApp. What would then begin is a barrage of obscene messages and videos to their mobiles.

Some years back, when mobile phones had just become a part and parcel of our lives, I was a similar victim. There would be lewd messages that would pop on my Nokia 3310 mobile at odd hours. Numerous creepy messages in a single day sent from multiple mobile numbers, made it difficult for me to track the person. The harassment lasted for over a month, when I finally decided to not only change my mobile number, but also my handset. I am not sure why I decided to do this. Probably because I feared that he would get at me some way or the other.

Individuals with such sadistic pleasures seldom stop at a single message.

 

harassment

Luckily, the ordeal ended there. But how I wish I had reported the matter at the first instance itself. To this date, I have no clue about who he was. I let him get away, despite the mental agony he had given me. When this happened to me in 2004, cyber laws weren’t in the form they are today. Besides, I not only lacked the awareness on how to report the matter, but was also of the opinion that getting at him legally would come with numerous hassles. How wrong I was!!

If I only I had reported, he would have been punished by a court of law for the mental agony I was subject to.

If only I had reported, he would not have had a chance to torment another person in a similar way.

If only I had reported…

Today there is a far more stringent Information Technology Act, under which it is a punishable offence to publish or transmit obscene material in any form. A person convicted of charges under this Act, could face up to five years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. If the same person is caught a second time, he faces 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh. The offences are categorized as cognizable crimes.

It is important for women to speak up whenever an offensive content is received. Lewd messages received through any means should not be ignored and must be brought to notice of the cyber-crime cell at the earliest. Individuals with such sadistic pleasures seldom stop at a single message. They are bound to harass you, until you take matters into your hands. Most women are hesitant to talk about it and prefer to suffer in silence, for fear of any sort of social stigma or the hassles of doing the rounds of the police station. Today, there are dedicated helplines in every city for addressing such issues and the victim’s identity is held intact. The legal procedures are not as complex as one thinks it to be.

Electronic means of communication has definitely been a boon in many a ways. Along with its comfort, also comes a great deal of caution that one must exercise. Remember to:

  • Maintain active privacy settings of your profile in the virtual world.
  • Give limited accesses to your personal data to people you don’t know.
  • Avoid giving your device to others.
  • And keep your devices locked when not in use.

 

*Featured Image Source: New India Express

Stumble It!

  1. After reading this in the papers today, I am now worried about the Whatsapp profile picture. But it is creepy nonetheless.

  2. After reading this in the papers today, I am now worried about the Whatsapp profile picture. But it is creepy nonetheless.

  3. Just read this half an hour before I saw your post. And it sucks… really sucks. Technology can be used for so much good and here you have individuals like this who are actually harassing literally thousands of strangers for no reason other than because they can… Stringent action may be dealt with here so many choose not to report it many a time out of pure fear. And it should never reach that stage where fear allows the perpetrator to win

  4. Just read this half an hour before I saw your post. And it sucks… really sucks. Technology can be used for so much good and here you have individuals like this who are actually harassing literally thousands of strangers for no reason other than because they can… Stringent action may be dealt with here so many choose not to report it many a time out of pure fear. And it should never reach that stage where fear allows the perpetrator to win

  5. This is such an important post, Ramya! Thanks for writing this. I remember being similarly harassed and it turned out to be a call center executive from my cell phone service provider. These creeps should be reported.

  6. This is such an important post, Ramya! Thanks for writing this. I remember being similarly harassed and it turned out to be a call center executive from my cell phone service provider. These creeps should be reported.

  7. This is a much-needed aspect in the world of social media and cyberbullying today! I hope stringent action is taken on such perpetrators every single time this happens and is reported.

    So sorry you had to go through that. It’s disgusting!

  8. This is a much-needed aspect in the world of social media and cyberbullying today! I hope stringent action is taken on such perpetrators every single time this happens and is reported.

    So sorry you had to go through that. It’s disgusting!

  9. I am glad you have all this information for women out there. Reporting is important. Wome should not let these creeps have fun by sending such messages.
    Technology has its own side effects and this one is one among the many.

  10. I am glad you have all this information for women out there. Reporting is important. Wome should not let these creeps have fun by sending such messages.
    Technology has its own side effects and this one is one among the many.

  11. My mom used to get missed calls from one of those “friendship” services thinking that the number belongs to a man. they were from random numbers with UK ISD codes, with random numbers everytime a missed call comes. by mistake they didn’t disconnect and mom picked up. A women with South Indian accents (my parents are from there) making lewd remarks. we disconnected the call. thought ignoring it may solve the problem. besides i know the police are not going to take a complaint based on random numbers from UK since it is out of their jurisdiction. the number of calls increased, I blocked. it worked for a while. the mom started getting messages from indian mobile numbers and that was enough to file a complaint. we did. and it worked.

    the problem is that there are B2B services that provide proxy numbers so that those who are called cannot track them down. It works like an anonymous VPN service with proxies from multiple countries. the police did suggest to change the number, but they did take the complaint and gave us an acknowledgment receipt. the complaints contained both proxy numbers from UK and India, but they did say that they are taking complain because its an Indian number as well. there is a similar service for India that facilitates US tech support scammers, pretending from dell, Lenovo and saying that their device/computer has a dangerous virus. FTC nailed the companies using those proxies. we need a system where we can prosecute companies and agencies that use fake numbers and such proxies. its bad enough as it is we have scammers for charity.

    The another problem was the number in question was a replacement for a previous number which had a somewhat similar problem. Mid-day used to have this ‘exotic masseur’ ad on a very regular basis. the only difference were the last two digits. but at times those last two numbers were switched to which mom started getting bad calls. some apologized. some were downright cheap. some were men who called asking for services. some were women and probably younger people who later called apologizing about it (they didn’t make lewd remarks). I emailed to Mid-Day. even to journalists. tried calling that service’s number. no joy.

    eventually i ended up blacklisting multiple uk numbers. i am sure even proxies have limitations in max. number of allocated phone numbers for such people.

    no number of safeguards will protect your number from being given to somebody else. there are small expos where one stall guy has a CD filled with names, phone numbers and other details- even annual income tax payments. plugging information leaks is a serious job and we really need to get started.

  12. My mom used to get missed calls from one of those “friendship” services thinking that the number belongs to a man. they were from random numbers with UK ISD codes, with random numbers everytime a missed call comes. by mistake they didn’t disconnect and mom picked up. A women with South Indian accents (my parents are from there) making lewd remarks. we disconnected the call. thought ignoring it may solve the problem. besides i know the police are not going to take a complaint based on random numbers from UK since it is out of their jurisdiction. the number of calls increased, I blocked. it worked for a while. the mom started getting messages from indian mobile numbers and that was enough to file a complaint. we did. and it worked.

    the problem is that there are B2B services that provide proxy numbers so that those who are called cannot track them down. It works like an anonymous VPN service with proxies from multiple countries. the police did suggest to change the number, but they did take the complaint and gave us an acknowledgment receipt. the complaints contained both proxy numbers from UK and India, but they did say that they are taking complain because its an Indian number as well. there is a similar service for India that facilitates US tech support scammers, pretending from dell, Lenovo and saying that their device/computer has a dangerous virus. FTC nailed the companies using those proxies. we need a system where we can prosecute companies and agencies that use fake numbers and such proxies. its bad enough as it is we have scammers for charity.

    The another problem was the number in question was a replacement for a previous number which had a somewhat similar problem. Mid-day used to have this ‘exotic masseur’ ad on a very regular basis. the only difference were the last two digits. but at times those last two numbers were switched to which mom started getting bad calls. some apologized. some were downright cheap. some were men who called asking for services. some were women and probably younger people who later called apologizing about it (they didn’t make lewd remarks). I emailed to Mid-Day. even to journalists. tried calling that service’s number. no joy.

    eventually i ended up blacklisting multiple uk numbers. i am sure even proxies have limitations in max. number of allocated phone numbers for such people.

    no number of safeguards will protect your number from being given to somebody else. there are small expos where one stall guy has a CD filled with names, phone numbers and other details- even annual income tax payments. plugging information leaks is a serious job and we really need to get started.

  13. It’s very unnerving to be hounded like this specially when it can end the way it did for poor Swathi. There are so many psychos out there. Clearly it’s a sign of being unhinged when you bombard someone you don’t know with lewd messages. We must speak up. These nuts have to be socialised. Their friends are probably all doing the same and they think it’s perfectly normal. It’s important to make it clear how ABNORMAL this behaviour is. Trouble with such a sexually repressed society.

  14. It’s very unnerving to be hounded like this specially when it can end the way it did for poor Swathi. There are so many psychos out there. Clearly it’s a sign of being unhinged when you bombard someone you don’t know with lewd messages. We must speak up. These nuts have to be socialised. Their friends are probably all doing the same and they think it’s perfectly normal. It’s important to make it clear how ABNORMAL this behaviour is. Trouble with such a sexually repressed society.

Have something to say?