India has the highest rate of women taking action against harassment calls and messages

India has the highest rate of women taking action against harassment calls and messages
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  • A Truecaller report shows that 8 out 10 women in India receive harassment and nuisance calls.
  • A majority of sexual or inappropriate calls come from unknown people, and a very low percentage are ever identified.
  • However, the majority of the Indian women are bold enough to take action against such calls.
Unsolicited calls by telemarketers is the bane of anyone using a mobile phone. But for women it is a bigger problem as they are subjected to inappropriate messages, and messages which are sexual in nature. According to a report by Truecaller, 8 out of 10 women in India receive harassment and nuisance calls.

India is one of the biggest markets for mobile phones and this has created not just a very large and thriving market for spammers and frauds, but even harassment.

Data shows that over 9% of the women receive these calls daily, while 52% receive a harassing phone call at least once a week. The highest intensity of this harassment is seen in Chennai, New Delhi, Pune and Kolkata.

A majority of sexual or inappropriate calls come from unknown people, and a very low percentage are identified, if ever. In India, 76% of such calls come from unknown people, while 4% come from acquaintances, as per the report.

But the good news is that a majority of the Indian women are bold enough to take action against such calls. The report suggests that 70% of women have taken action against these messages and calls, which is the highest percentage among four countries — Brazil, Columbia, Egypt and Kenya.


Women being harassed Percentage
Women receiving harassing calls and messages80%
Women getting these calls everyday9%
Calls coming from known acquaintances 4%
Women taking an action against it70%
Women reporting it to the authorities12%
Source: Truecaller

Lurkers catch on to phone numbers

As per the Truecaller report, 85% of the women block the number from which they received the inappropriate phone call and message, while only 12% report it to the police.

One of the reasons why women don’t report it to the police is that there is no standard recourse to these complaints. Less than half of them call their operators for help, or simply ignore it.

In Brazil and India, it is very common for women to share their numbers. The most common occasions women share their phone number are when they are topping up their phone, shopping, entering contests, and filling in logbooks.

“Some people lurk around in the recharge shops and get our numbers from there,” Smriti, an Indian resident, told Tuecaller. She highlighted an alarming fact that phone numbers are being sold by phone recharge shops across the country, enabling men to stalk and harass women. This practice is very common in Uttar Pradesh.

“This provides a market for private information sourced in this way is a major safety concern, especially for young girls who are exposed to inappropriate messages and are less informed about what recourse they have,” says the Truecaller report.

It is important to keep your private information confidential. “There are certain downsides of having a smartphone, we should be more cautious about where we are sharing our information and with whom,” Pragya Misra, director of public affairs, Truecaller, told Business Insider India in an interview.

ItsNotOkCampaign by Truecaller

The Truecaller app launched an ‘ItsNotOk’ campaign to get a deeper insight into harassment, spam and phishing calls to women and found that this had increased by at least 12% in the last 2-3 years.

Besides this, 96% of women surveyed used the Truecaller app to identify numbers and 66% used the app to protect their privacy.

In March this year, the app also started displaying the women’s safety helpline number on its speed dialler, as part of its campaign and reported that the helpline number received double the number of calls.

“It has helped increase the reach of DCW tremendously,” said Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) in a tweet.

Before integrating the Women’s Helpline Number with the Truecaller App, the commission received around 2,000 calls per day. However, it is now receiving more than 4,000 calls per day, which is double of the total calls received per day previously.

“Today, over 10 crore women in India use Truecaller as their first line of defense against calls and SMS-based harassment. About 2.45 million of our 220 million users in India used this feature and about 4.21 million calls were initiated over 45 days from within Truecaller,” said Misra.

The only way to save yourself from these types of calls and messages is to know the ‘digital etiquettes’, Mishra told Business Insider. “If you see a fraud number reaching out to you, then take one minute more of yours, and report the number as ‘scam’ on the Truecaller app,” Misra added.

Truecaller alike app by TRAI

In June this year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also announced its plans to roll out a Truecaller-like caller ID app which will show KYC-based names on users’ phone displays.

“Received a reference to develop this new caller ID from the DoT (Department of Telecom) and it is expected to launch in a few months’ time. Vaghela said that TRAI already had plans to develop such a mechanism, but now with specific reference from DoT, work should start soon,” said TRAI chairman PD Vaghela.

The app will work just the way Truecaller works. If you get a call from an unknown number, you will be able to see KYC-based information about the person calling you on your screen, if the program is turned on.

TRAI has also made sure that the app will be consent-based and voluntary and users will also have the authority to decide whether or not to have their names displayed to identify spam calls, as per reports.

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