Men in Third World calling phone numbers at random in search of love

Technology has certainly changed the Third World.  In countries like India and Morocco, where cell phones are widely available for the first time, men are dialing random phone numbers, and when they hear a woman's voice at the other end, they immediately engage in sexy talk to try to get them interested.

The "phone Romeo," as he is known here, calls numbers at random until he hears a woman's voice, in the hope of striking up a romantic attachment. Among them are overeager suitors ("Can I recharge your mobile?"), tremulous supplicants ("I am talking to you, madam, but my body is shaking") and the occasional heavy breather ("I want to do the illegal things with you").

I wonder, how often does the line "I want to do the illegal things with you" actually work?  Probably less than 1% of the time.  On the other hand, in a country like India with hundreds of millions of people, it would probably work at least once if you called enough women, right?

Intentionally dialing wrong numbers is a labor-intensive way to find a girlfriend. But it is increasingly common in a range of countries – Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and India are examples – where traditional gender segregation has collided head-on with a wave of cheap new technology.

Reports of phone stalking have increased exponentially, leading to growing complaints of harassment. But an unknown number of such calls are successful, resulting in what an American anthropologist has labeled "wrong-number relationships."

At the police call center in Lucknow, in northern India, roughly 700 calls come in every day, mostly from women complaining of persistent calls from strange men. The Hindustan Times recently reported that phone recharging outlets were selling the numbers of young women to interested men, charging 500 rupees, about $7.60, for a "beautiful" girl and 50 rupees for an "ordinary" one.

So in India you can get the phone numbers of ten ordinary women for the price of the phone number of one beautiful one.  Does that imply that only one out of ten women in India is pretty, or just that pretty women in India don't use cell phones?  In my experience, the most beautiful women use landlines.

This whole story is very sad (and very funny).  Men, so desperate to meet women, literally calling the world at random, connecting with men, old women, married women, women with boyfriends, lesbian women, men disguised as women, and single women, many of whom would not go within 100 miles of a guy who said, "I want to do the illegal things with you."  Is there no other way to find a girlfriend in the Third World?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

Technology has certainly changed the Third World.  In countries like India and Morocco, where cell phones are widely available for the first time, men are dialing random phone numbers, and when they hear a woman's voice at the other end, they immediately engage in sexy talk to try to get them interested.

The "phone Romeo," as he is known here, calls numbers at random until he hears a woman's voice, in the hope of striking up a romantic attachment. Among them are overeager suitors ("Can I recharge your mobile?"), tremulous supplicants ("I am talking to you, madam, but my body is shaking") and the occasional heavy breather ("I want to do the illegal things with you").

I wonder, how often does the line "I want to do the illegal things with you" actually work?  Probably less than 1% of the time.  On the other hand, in a country like India with hundreds of millions of people, it would probably work at least once if you called enough women, right?

Intentionally dialing wrong numbers is a labor-intensive way to find a girlfriend. But it is increasingly common in a range of countries – Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and India are examples – where traditional gender segregation has collided head-on with a wave of cheap new technology.

Reports of phone stalking have increased exponentially, leading to growing complaints of harassment. But an unknown number of such calls are successful, resulting in what an American anthropologist has labeled "wrong-number relationships."

At the police call center in Lucknow, in northern India, roughly 700 calls come in every day, mostly from women complaining of persistent calls from strange men. The Hindustan Times recently reported that phone recharging outlets were selling the numbers of young women to interested men, charging 500 rupees, about $7.60, for a "beautiful" girl and 50 rupees for an "ordinary" one.

So in India you can get the phone numbers of ten ordinary women for the price of the phone number of one beautiful one.  Does that imply that only one out of ten women in India is pretty, or just that pretty women in India don't use cell phones?  In my experience, the most beautiful women use landlines.

This whole story is very sad (and very funny).  Men, so desperate to meet women, literally calling the world at random, connecting with men, old women, married women, women with boyfriends, lesbian women, men disguised as women, and single women, many of whom would not go within 100 miles of a guy who said, "I want to do the illegal things with you."  Is there no other way to find a girlfriend in the Third World?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

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