On 3rd May, social media users of Instagram and Twitter exposed an Instagram group chat called ‘Bois Locker Room’ which contained boys from several Delhi NCR Schools objectifying women.
The group had boys aged around 16-18, who indulged in stalking and sharing pictures of womxn, including minors; passing vulgar comments, body shaming, and slut shaming. These men shared several nude pictures in the aforementioned group too. These chats have gone viral on Twitter and Instagram, and have made several people to speak out about the toxic misogynist culture perpetuated in schools by cis-het men.
Following are some of the chats from the group:
[Trigger Warning: Slut Shaming, verbal abuse, rape ideation]
Following the expose of the group chat “Bois Locker Talk”, another group was formed namely “Jai ka skirt skrt gang” where the members of the former chat talked about damage control by threatening to injure everyone who put up a story. One of the members said, “I’m gonna make some calls and turn this shit around” while the rest talked about possible switching of accounts, deactivation and shocker – making a despotic group chat like this on Snapchat next time. Several Instagram accounts with usernames such as @boiislockerroom and @boys_locker_room69, amongst many others have been made and are serving as the revival of the previous group. The account holders are posting up stories blaming the attempt of the girls as merely an act to seek popularity and attention. The latter of the two, mentioned above has recently put up a story declaring, ”I have contacted the best lawyer in the city, AP Singh who was the defence lawyer of the four accused people in Nirbhaya case. He is ready to take up the case and assured that not even a single thing will happen.” he ended the story with asking the people to peace out.
Ashna Sharma, one of the first whistle blowers of this event told DU Beat, “I have honestly put everything out there. I genuinely have a lot of things to say but at this point I am so drained out. A lot of minors are involved and I don’t want to cause them or their reputation any harm. Nevertheless thank you for spreading this. These guys deserve to be exposed.”
Parth Vashisht, one of the former members of the Group Chat said, “Whatever was in the group was outright disgusting, it cannot be tolerated. However accusing someone falsely wasn’t the right thing. I’ve been receiving death threats too. As far as I know, the group wasn’t made to pass degrading comments on girls, it was just a normal group. I was not aware of this, and I believe the ones who are guilty should be punished.”
Students from several schools of Delhi NCR have rightfully condemned this incident, those who personally knew the boys and went to the same school as them have expressed shock, disgust and despair. Many of the group chat members hailed from the erstwhile prestigious schools of India – and students have come forward and identified them as their juniors, seniors and batchmates. Several of them were pass outs of these schools.
One of the victims, told about Tushar Rijhwani, an active participant of the group, “It gives me extreme pain to announce that I have been in a relationship with Tushar; during my entire tenure of dating him for an year, he has emotionally manipulated me and has shown my private pictures to his friends. After 12th boards, which is usually a time for students to enjoy and celebrate, I was in a major depression because of him.” She further said,”He used to talk a lot of ill stuff about his parents and mother, now I feel a boy who can not respect his own mother, how can we expect him to respect other women.” She further pointed out that she thinks he is in need of professional help as she spoke about certain incidents where he behaved abnormally.
A member of the group chat posted on Instagram story, “I just want to say that I realize the gravity of my mistake and I’m in no position to defend myself in any way. I take full responsibility for my actions. I would like to publicly apologize to every single person, especially all the women I’ve angered. I know we do not deserve this, but please I beg you to not take any further actions as it would be detrimental for us.” One of the admins of the Group Chat posted on his private Instagram account, “Such incidents are supposed to make us become aware of our acts, and not to do it again. I saw my best friends leave, I had panic attacks, anxiety, self loathing and suicidal thoughts. The only way forward is to accept what happened, own up to it and apologize. I will make sure that I, and my friends in the group never repeat such behaviour. We are still fresh out of school and have a whole life ahead of us that would be affected by some stupid testosterone fuelled decisions.” DU Beat reached out for a comment from both, but have received none so far.
According to News18, this issue has been taken up with lawyers as well as security agencies. Following the outrage, Shubham Singh, a cyber cell investigator who is on Instagram under the name @Shubhamcybercop started an investigation and managed to find the contact information of some of the members and admin of the groups in question. As per latest updates, some members of the group have been arrested under Section 66A of the IT Act for cyber bullying. The Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) has issued a notice to the authorities of Instagram and Delhi Police asking them to provide the names, Insta handles, Email-Ids, IP addresses, locations and further details of the accused boys, by 8th May, so that a proper action can be sought against each. “This is a very serious matter wherein an open media platform is being used for illegal activities. In view of the same the commission has instituted an enquiry into the matter”, the official notice comprised.
‘Boys locker room’ and the other parallel online groups like these are just a manifestation of the toxic savarna cis-het culture of Indian schools, that glorify abuse of power by men. There is a vagrant display of toxic masculinity and inherent misogyny in various forms across social media, something which is glorified. Films, songs, and pop culture propagate the objectification of womxn in all spheres. This particular instance is a reflection of the hegemony of ‘privileged’ schools which often protects these boys while promoting a culture unsafe for womxn, offline and online. The ‘boys will be boys’ mentality needs to end, all of them should be held accountable for their actions.
However, according to recent updates, Delhi Police has identified all the members present in the group and will be examined by the Delhi Police Cyber Hub.
Featured Image Credits: The Vice