This article originally appeared on VICE India.
In December last year, eight students from one of Mumbai’s top-ranked schools were suspended for the horrific content of their WhatsApp chats that included conversations around “gang bang” and raping their classmates. Now, another shocking incident involving a group chat of teenaged boys has been uncovered in Delhi. An Instagram group chat of boys aged around 16-19, named ‘bois locker room’, was exposed on Instagram and Twitter for making obscene comments and exchanging private photos of girls.
The group chat—which was formed on Instagram with 26 members—was solely a platform for members to share photos of girls—many as young as 15—and discuss their bodies. They collectively objectified and body-shamed these girls and made filthy comments about their bodies, even going as far as sharing private conversations with girls, in the group. This came to light when on May 2, when Instagram user @ashnaasharma spoke about how she was sent screenshots of the group chat by someone who was added to the group—going on to expose these conversations through screenshots posted on her Instagram stories.
Another user @niskanagpal then posted the screenshots of the group chat on her story, which then rightly spread like wildfire throughout the platform.
A screenshot also revealed that they had made statements such as: “We can rape her easily” and “I will come whenever you say. We will gang rape her”. However, the members of the group deny making such statements.
After the list of the members of the group came out, many of the boys involved messaged the girls about being ‘inactive in the group’, defending themselves. Some other boys, meanwhile, made a new group chat ‘Jai ka skirt skrt gang’ to discuss ways of getting out of the mess. Appallingly, some of the boys in that new group made threats about the people who put up Instagram stories against them and then even asked for a new group to be made on Snapchat—since Snapchat allows conversations to be deleted.
What some of the boys involved also did was intimidate the women involved—by saying statements such as “I will fuck her up” and threatening to “leak their nude photos”. Unsurprisingly, none of the images in possession of this group was acquired by them consensually. In the wake of this expose, Shubham Singh, a cyber cell investigator, then found the contact information of some of the members and admins of the group.
“We’ve all been extremely anxious lately. We’re being sent threats from random fake accounts for speaking up,” said one of the women involved in exposing the group chat, to VICE. “We have been trying to figure out how to go about all of this. It’s been tough, but we are definitely glad that we got this out there. No matter how much hate we are receiving at the moment, I’m glad that we gave other women a chance to speak up. And the topics that have been suppressed for the longest time are now coming up.”
Most of the members of the group are from the elite schools of Delhi and have now deactivated their handles. However, one of the members has posted an apology statement to his Instagram stories.
The boys have also, allegedly, been booked under Section 66E of IT Act for Cyberbullying. Swati Maliwal, the Chairperson of the Delhi Commission For Women (DCW), posted saying that the DCW has issued notice to Instagram and Delhi Police regarding the incident.
While extremely appalling, this incident is not the first in a country with unprecedented rates of sexual violence. The same day, a subreddit called r/srmbeauties was also found where students of SRM University could be seen exchanging nudes of the women of the university. What these incidents have also done is spark conversations across the internet bashing “locker room talk”—a term which was widely talked about in 2016, when Trump defended his crude remarks as “locker room banter”. 'Locker room talk', however, continues to remain a form of casual crude conversation—rooted in sexism and toxic masculinity, both of which India has plenty of.
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