About a week ago, Shasvathi Shiva wrote in Vice India about her experience of being harassed, sent unsolicited obscene pictures, and receiving inappropriate comments from unknown men. All this, because her number was shared as she was seeking resources and help for family who had contracted COVID-19. As she fielded calls from blood banks, others to find a ventilator bed, and then a plasma donor, she received calls with a man asking if she was single. At another point, she was receiving video calls from seven men simultaneously, forcing her to put her phone on silent and let it pass. And all of this was happening while she was in the middle of a medical emergency. In the time since, many women have posted on social media about similar ordeals. A Twitter user, Rathy, said on April 26 that she is filled with anxiety every time she has to open a new DM, because she has received so many obscene photos from men. Another Twitter user wrote about receiving “dick pics in response to pleas for help” and also being asked “for phone sex”. Another person wrote she had received a porn clip from a person she said she helped with oxygen requirement leads. Several other women said that they too had received obscene photos since they opened her DMs for people asking for COVID-19 related help. When Shasvathi shared on Instagram about the harassment she was facing, it only intensified. In a screenshot she shared on Twitter, someone had used her photo, slut shamed her. Her DMs were full of more vile abuses. Been looking for plasma donors, and my no has been around in some groups + stories. I've fielded calls from men asking me if I'm single, if I can share photos, my dp is nice etc, and 1 "friend" who said he'd help if 'at least now you go on a date with me' Some men are DISGUSTING — Shasvathi Siva (@shasvathi) April 15, 2021 Been looking for plasma donors, and my no has been around in some groups + stories. I've fielded calls from men asking me if I'm single, if I can share photos, my dp is nice etc, and 1 "friend" who said he'd help if 'at least now you go on a date with me' Some men are DISGUSTING — Shasvathi Siva (@shasvathi) April 15, 2021 Posted on instagram about the harrasment I faced from men when I put my number out for a Covid emergency. Not only have the "Not All Men" brigade arrived on the comments section, I'm getting harrassed even more. And then you wonder why victims don't speak up. MY HEAD HURTS. pic.twitter.com/sCfcHpru3e — Shasvathi Siva (@shasvathi) April 21, 2021 Every time I click open a new DM, I am filled with anxiety. Like I want to help and I love you that you are donating for Covid-19 Fundraiser but the number of images of male genitalia I have received since yday is YIKES!! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Oh it is a dᴉck pic. — Rathy (@iRatzzz) April 26, 2021 Ever since I've opened my dms for covid help, I've received pleas; and I've tried as much as possible to send resources, and I've helped so many people. But since yesterday I've got about 4 dick pics which is absolutely pathetic. We're trying to help- tbh I'm disgusted and done. — ✨Harshhhhh✨ (@ayoitsharsh) April 23, 2021 I'm so sorry my DMs aren't open, too many unsolicited dick pics not enough mental health to handle them — miss ogyny (@bleachhpls) April 24, 2021 received 3 since yesterday — sam, dm for help (@samwtfff) April 25, 2021 If grief and helplessness is making you feel unable to function, worry not. Bhakts and perverts are here--to send dick pics in response to pleas for help, ask for phone sex, write vile messages. All intended to make you spring out of bed in fury. All for a good cause — Bed Tea Tagore (@sohinichat) April 21, 2021 tw // harrasment WTF? I gave my number to a few patients in need to be able to provide them w resources and I found out thay my number is being circulated? I GOT 15 DISGUSTING TEXT MESSAGES INCLUDING D*CK PICS AND CALLS. PLEASE PLEASE DON'T DO THIS I BEG. — charm |rting covid resources (@charmjournals) April 23, 2021 It's been 3 days & men still dm me to say I invited men to harass me bc of the choice of my pfp or bc I chose to volunteer. They victim shame me & did not hold their gender accountable. Only when a woman expresses her frustration people talk about pseudo feminism and misandry. https://t.co/6NV91nvyZv pic.twitter.com/OybE8109GC — charm |rting covid resources (@charmjournals) April 27, 2021 See this?THIS BREAKS MY HEART. This is the reason I'm scared to make calls or anything because I'm a girl. And I don't want my number going around. I don't want dick pics. Guys,we're in a pandemic and we're volunteering to help, PLEASE DON'T FUCKING THINK WITH YOUR GENITALS pic.twitter.com/KufTNXmAMu — vajra| covid help (@vajraroshni_) April 23, 2021 It happened! Finally it happened! Someone I helped with oxygen leads yesterday just sent me a porn clip. — semispinalis (@Semispinalis) April 22, 2021 Volunteers, doctors’ numbers given out, inundated with calls Apart from the disgusting online sexual harassment that the women above are facing, there are others whose contacts have been shared, sometimes without their consent too. For instance, a series of messages and tweets has been doing the rounds, sharing the numbers of several doctors, claiming they are providing free consultation on COVID-19 for certain times in the day. TNM called each of these numbers a couple of days ago to verify, and most of them were found to be switched off. A couple of others responded to texts, and asked us not to include their numbers in our COVID-19 resource lists. It is unclear if these doctors’ consent was taken before sharing their numbers, or if all of them are indeed medical professionals. If the latter is true, then by giving out their contacts, their actual patients have also been denied access to them as the individuals have been forced to switch off their phones. In another case, a volunteer told a TNM reporter that he was forced to switch off his number as he was inundated with calls after his number was given out. On Tuesday, a man TNM had called to verify (we got his contact from another online list of COVID-19 resources) if he was able to supply oxygen requested us not to put his number anywhere as he was getting too many calls and was unable to help. While it is true that people are also desperate with a struggling healthcare system and a major mismatch between the health requirements of people (oxygen, hospital beds, ventilators and so on) and the supply from the state and official sources, it is important to take consent before sharing someone’s number publicly or privately in such dire times, so that help can reach those who really need it.