Sexual Risk

A news study has found that nearly 30 percent of Indians experience online sexual risks, including unwanted sexting. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

NEW DELHI — Nearly three in 10 Indians experienced a sexual risk online, including unwanted sexting, in 2017 with males reporting higher levels of harassment than females, a Microsoft study said Feb. 6.

It found that 23 percent of males reported harassment as compared to 16 percent of females, which was driven by unwanted sexting.

The Microsoft study, that examined the extent of negative behavior and online interactions and their consequences, defined harassment as unwanted contact, unwanted sexting, online harassment, cyberbullying or misogyny.

Ranking the country seventh – out of 23 countries surveyed – with a Digital Civility Index of 61 percent, the report, however, said that the consequences from harassment were higher for females than males.

"Females were more likely to lose trust in people online and offline, have greater life stress and had higher rates of depression," the report said.

The report said that the exposure to online risks among family or friends was 69 percent – slightly above the global average (65 percent).

While, unwanted contact remained the top risk by a wide margin, hoaxes, scams and frauds was 10 points lower than the global average.

"Nearly one-third of Indians experienced a behavioral risk which was eight points below the global average. Trolling declined and fell below the global average by six points. Reputational risks rose a combined three points led by damage to personal and work reputation," the report said.

The report found that in India 20 percent online risks were facilitated by family and friends as compared to 17 percent globally.

Nearly 77 percent of respondents said they were treated in a safe and civil manner online which is 12 points above the global average (65 percent).

Forty-four percent of respondents had met their perpetrator in real life versus 53 percent globally.

"Among those who had met their perpetrators, 75 percent met before the risk occurred.

The average number of risks was 72 percent higher among those who had met the perpetrator in real life versus those who had not," the report said.

Familiarity with the perpetrator in real life also affected exposure to consequences.

Two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) suffered at least one consequence from online risks with loss of trust in people online and loss of sleep being the most common.

"Among those who had met their perpetrator in real life, 40 percent lost trust in people online and 37 percent lost sleep. This compared to lost trust in people online (34 percent) and lost sleep (19 percent) for those who had not met the perpetrator in real life," the report found.

Most respondents said they practiced civil behavior, with India (64 percent) exceeding the global average (52 percent) on standing up for themselves.

Nearly 36 percent Indians stood up for others as compared to the 27 percent global average.

Females (76 percent) were more likely than males (69 percent) to treat others with respect and dignity.

Sixty-five percent females respected other people's point of view as compared to 59 percent males. Generation X (ages 35-49) and baby boomers (ages 50-74) reported the highest levels of civil behavior.

The report also found that millennials (ages 18-34) had the highest levels of risk exposure (67 percent). Conversely, baby boomers (ages 50-74) had the lowest DCI (40 percent).

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