Messages talking about such organised gangs are citing distorted data on missing women, causing panic over women’s safety in public spaces.

TNM Fact Check Are women being drugged by perfume salesmen near malls in TelanganaImage for representation
news Fake news Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 11:36

A message claiming that perfume salespersons near shopping malls are handing out perfume samples on paper that are actually laced with drugs has been doing the rounds on WhatsApp in Telangana.

“It’s a new scam, the paper is laced with drugs. U’ll pass out so they can kidnap, rob or do worse things to u. This happened in more than 3 well known malls (sic),” the message says.

To support the claim, the message says that “over 78 girls are missing in hyderabad alone and more than 540 ladies are missing past 10 days.”

These numbers are from an Eenadu report from June 11, which talks about 546 people missing from Telangana between June 1 and 10. The report had triggered a panic wave across the state fuelled by social media. 

TNM had earlier debunked the hysteria around the news, showing that while the numbers were true, there was no need to panic.

According to the fact check done by TNM, the number 546 isn’t unusually high. In 2016, a total of 16,134 persons (including children) went missing in Telangana, which is 44 people per day on an average. Moreover, there are a couple of factors behind the rise during the months of May and June. Swati Lakra, Inspector General of Police, Women’s safety, explained that the numbers usually go up in summer because of children running away from home in fear of exams or reopening of schools. “But an important thing to be noticed here is that a considerable number of these children return home once the panic dies down. But since the cases are filed, they become a part of the state statistics,” Lakra said.

According to data from the state police department, out of nearly 545 missing persons, 276 were women. Police say that since families of women are more easily worried, they file a complaint within hours, while men’s families take 2 - 3 days. They ruled out the possibility of organised gangs in the state involved in kidnapping women.

Police also said that of the 545 odd cases, they had traced 222 persons. They also said that in 2018, 85% of missing persons cases had been solved.

While sexual assault in the streets is a serious threat for women, these messages are distorting numbers to make it look like organised crime, causing panic and mass hysteria about women moving in public places.



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