Most of us (especially women) have at some point in their lives been bothered by calls from strangers asking obscene questions or talking in an offensive way. These calls are recurrent and the person on the other end sounds as if they feel satisfied doing it.

Why do some people call and talk sexually to unknown women and men? Is this just an attempt at creating nuisance or a mental disorder?

It is actually a psychosexual disorder characterised by a recurrent, intense urge or fantasy to make obscene telephone calls. It is called Telephonicophilia or Telephone Scatology. A paraphilic condition in which sexuoerotic arousal and gratification are dependent upon talking about sexual or obscene matters over the telephone to an unknown listener.

Who can be calling?

The caller could be anyone - a teenager, a middle-aged person or a mentally disabled person. They may be a juvenile or a married father of two; someone with manic depression or schizophrenia; he may be intoxicated with alcohol or drugs; or an anxious, shy, lonely man afraid of rejection and unable to form a close personal relationship.

The callers are mostly attention seekers.

The behaviour of the person while calling:

The behaviour patterns of the callers vary greatly. Sometimes they masturbate during the telephone calls. Others, stimulated by the telephone experience may masturbate afterwards. Some obscene phone callers do not speak. Instead, they emit sounds of sexual pleasure into the phone or breathe heavily. Others reveal their masturbatory activity to the victim. 

Sometimes it is clear to the victim that the man on the phone may be intoxicated because of slurred speech, mild incoherence etc. Other callers are simply crude and utter profanities and obscenities. Some callers bluntly ask for sex.

Law against Telephone Scatologists in India:

In India, no particular law targets telephone scatology. However,  under Section 507 of anonymous communication and Section 506 of punishment for criminal intimidation, whoever commits the offence of an anonymous communication and makes sexual remarks on phone may account to criminal intimidation hence violating the provision of the above-mentioned sections. As a consequence, he shall be punished with imprisonment of four years.

Recommended treatment:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, Orgasmic reconditioning, Social skills training, group therapy.

How to handle obscene phone calls:

  • The key to handling these calls is not reacted to them. Reacting encourages the caller so the victim must hang up immediately.
  • Keep track of the date and time of the calls, they can help identify possible suspects. Properly documenting such calls is an important way of eliminating the problem. This information allows Telecom department to begin tracing procedures. The call log sheet allows recording specific characteristics of each unwanted call received.
  • To tell the caller that his calls are being traced is an effective technique to discourage the calls.

After tracing the caller, public safety officials and the police must be immediately informed.