If Delhi’s Elite School-Going Boys Talk Casually about Rape, What Hope Do We Have for this Country?

Gender

If Delhi’s Elite School-Going Boys Talk Casually about Rape, What Hope Do We Have for this Country?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

A series of terrifying Instagram posts have revealed that a group of teenage boys, aged 17 to 18, from South Delhi in a group chat named “Bois Locker Room” regularly made derogatory remarks about women and body-shamed them. The members of the group allegedly belong to some of Delhi’s most reputed schools, claimed Ansha Sharma, who was among the first to post about the group on the photo-sharing app.

 

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The outrage soon spread to Twitter where another girl claimed that the boys would often morph pictures of teenage girls, mostly their classmates.

As the screenshots were made public, girls started identifying the members of the group, claiming that they went to the same school as the boys. Many of them attended Birla Vidya Niketan, Amity Pushp Vihar, and other “affluent” South Delhi schools.

The screenshots sparked tremendous outrage on social media, as everyone got glimpses of chats where teenagers spoke casually about gang-rape.

#Boyslockerroom was trending in India last night, with over 10,000 tweets in a matter of a few hours. “Why are “boys locker room” chats so normalised? How is it okay to comment cheaply on a girl’s physical appearance? This should not be normalised. An incident took place today which makes me feel unsafe as a woman,” wrote @anuvaa1 on Twitter. Several others came forward to point out other such horrific groups and platforms where men objectify women, and in some cases, even share nudes without their consent.

Ansha Sharma later said that she received threats and her account was hacked.

It is learned that once their group and handles were made public, many of the boys deactivated their accounts and closed down the group. For some time, even a new group was made called Boi Locker Room 2.0. Some threatened the women who stood up to their brazen misogyny and entitlement, by saying, “Bhai jitni bhi ladkiyon ne stories daali hai na, sabki nudes leak kar dete hai”.

There were a few who apologised after the outrage, but there were also some defenders, as this girl pointed out.

However, the Delhi incident isn’t an isolated one. In December last year, an IB school in Mumbai suspended eight 13 to 14 year-old students for violent and abusive remarks in a WhatsApp group. The eight spoke of “gang bang” and “rape” and made fun of their other classmates, labelling them as lesbians and gays, Mumbai Mirror had reported. But before we blame it on a “generation”, let’s remember that we as a society have normalised demeaning women for long.

In this essay, Jackie Thakkar talks about the slut-shaming culture in schools and how “girls were recklessly labelled “loose” and “easy” for things as mundane as the length of their skirts or having too many guy friends. “In fact, the length of a girl’s skirt was often indirectly proportional to how much she was gossipped about. The teachers often fuelled the slut-shaming culture by picking these girls out between assembly lines and lectures,” he writes about his school experience from the early noughties.

But for far too long we have been pointing fingers at the women. Even after the Delhi incident, there was no dearth of defenders and those blaming the girls.

The problem then is far bigger and the solution needs to be equally revolutionary. When boys as young as 13 and 17 talk about rape, we need to realise what needs to change is our “boys will be boys” mentality and the way India raises its men.

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