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So when Ali began getting these texts at all hours, her father suggested she change her number.
It's certainly not the best way to woo someone, but attempting to "make friendship" through misspelled and clichéd text messages has become a sort of national phenomenon.
Some are lighthearted about the matter, but these text messages can pose serious consequences. It was the constant ding-ding-ding of text messages coming from strange numbers. "I talked to my father and he suggested that I change my number." Ali says the text messages said mostly the same things: "I want to be your friend." "Ur beautiful." "?
It doesn't seem like friendship is what they're after. She was excited when she first got a cell phone a few years ago. miss you…" Even though Ali doubted the men texting her had ever seen her.
And she didn't like the idea of men using a phone to barge into her private life.
She says friendship texts are more than just an annoyance. For Sirshar, the texts might lead families to take their daughters out of school.
Parents might assume the texts meant the girls were involved with unknown men.Pakistan is a conservative country where dating is largely considered unacceptable. " Dad says there's a song called "Take Back the Tech" that gives women advice at combating the all too common menace of digital harassment.Sirshar says it's so conservative that a few unwanted texts could cause parents to take away their daughters' phones and keep them locked up at home. But Sirshar admits a few key phrases can strike the right notes with some women. It includes the lyrics: "Pick up the phone to take a picture of what life looks like through your eyes When he's stalking and harassing you with mobile phones and computers by his side." Dad tells women to fight back.These pick up lines propose commitment, even marriage right from the get go. She does this herself by blocking the strangers' numbers that send her harassing texts. A guy sent a romantic poem to my phone the other day.Things like: "I really like you." "I'm a sincere guy." "I want to make a long relationship with you." How do men get women's numbers in the first place? This mystery sender compared his all-weather love for me to the seasons.Usama Khilji of Bholo Bhi, an organization that promotes internet freedom and privacy, says that shopkeepers who sell SIM cards and top-up prepaid phones share women's numbers for some extra cash or even just for fun. Before I blocked his number, I thought I'd try to reason with him. So I thought I'd call him up to see if this SMS poet might be eloquent enough to explain himself.