This article has been written by Heena Jalan, a student of School of Law, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar.
“Bois Locker Room” or “sadistic masculinity” or a “subtle way of advertising rape culture”? We can connote infinite labels to such criminal act of unsavoury objectification of women and teenagers girls in an enclosed chat room which is otherwise not in the public domain but also on social media involving almost hundred under-aged boys who can also be termed as “juveniles” or just turned adults. This particular information has been ridiculed and has gained mass media attention from all over the world. Throwing some clarity on this, casual sexism, pornography, swapping of nudes without a consensus, sexual remarks, rape fancies, sexual harassment, slut-shaming, and morphing images were some of the illegal doings that were carried out in this so-called “small” chat room. This diabolical incident went viral after a south Delhi girl busted the Bois Locker Room by sharing the screenshots of the group chat on Instagram and Twitter. After investigation, the admin of the group, a boy of 18 years old, was arrested by the cyber cell of the Delhi Police.
Even after the #MeToo movement why haven’t we progressed as a society? The reasons pertaining to the unchanging attitude and the prevalence of “gender vengeance” are due to lack of proper sex education in schools, everyday machismo, prejudiced notion, indulging oneself in what absolutism, oblivious parenting, etc. Citing more of such incidents which were widely ridiculed- in 2019 a Mumbai school suspended 8 boys who indulged themselves in slut-shaming and using abhor terms like rape and trash via WhatsApp for their female classmates. Another occurrence that occurred simultaneously with the “Bois Locker room” was the leaking of an apparent sexual assault conversation on Snapchat concerning the rape of a girl, wherein later it was revealed that a girl emulated herself as a boy and planned for her own rape. The netizens deceitfully clubbed these two incidents together and claimed: “Bois Locker Room” to be a bogus construct.
Until now, the police has interviewed/questioned many members of the group and have seized many phones and have dispatched the same to the forensics to retrieve the lost/deleted data. The offences perpetrated by the netizens belonging to the “Bois Locker Room” attract penal provisions and amounts to a violation of various laws of India. It constitutes offences under :
Section 66E of the Information Technology Act, 2008 which enumerates- Punishment for violation of privacy.–Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years.
Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860which enumerates- Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.—Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years.
Section 354A (1) (IV) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860which enumerates- Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment. — (1) Aman committing any of the following acts—
(iv) Making sexually coloured remarks,
shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.
Section 354C of the Indian Penal Code, 1860which enumerates- Voyeurism.—Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years.
Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860which enumerates-Defamation.—Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.
Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860which enumerates- Criminal intimidation.—Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation or property, or to the person or reputation of anyone in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat, commits criminal intimidation.
Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860which enumerates- Whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years.
Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860which enumerates-Whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication or having taken the precaution to conceal the name or abode of the person from whom the threat comes, shall be punished with imprisonment of two years.
Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860which enumerates-Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.—Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any words, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term of three years.
Section 13 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012which enumerates– Whoever uses a child in any form of media for the purposes of sexual gratification, which includes-
(a) representation of the sexual organs of a child;
(c) the indecent or obscene representation of a child,
shall be guilty of the offence of using a child for pornographic purposes.
Section 15 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012which enumerates– Punishment for storage of pornographic material involving child.-(1) Any person, who stores or possesses pornographic material in any form involving a child, but fails to delete or destroy or report the same to the designated authority, as may be prescribed, with an intention to share or transmit child pornography, shall be liable to fine.
On 04.05.2020, the Delhi Commission for Women took Suo moto cognizance and issued a notice to the social media platform Instagram and Delhi Cyber Police and mandated to provide specific details of the admin and other group members which include their name, handle name, Email-ID, IP address, location and any other necessary information. But unfortunately, restricted and partial information was tendered by Instagram to the police, which proved to be a major impediment to further continue the investigation. On 05.04.2020, three practising lawyers of Supreme Court wrote a detailed letter and requested the Supreme Court to intervene in pursuance of the timely investigation, inquiry and adjudication of this offence. On 06.04.2020, Advocates Neela Gokhale and Ilam Paridi made a representation of the Delhi High Court to take Suo moto cognizance and register an FIR against the perpetrators and also initiate an investigation on the same. Subsequently, a Petition was filed by Advocate-on-Record Omprakash Parihar and Dushyant Tiwari on behalf of Dev Ashish Dubey, wherein the petitioner prayed to get the Instagram group “Bois Locker Room” issue investigated through SIT or CBI, to arrest all the Instagram Group “Bios Locker Room” members immediately and to provide safety to the girls and women who have exposed this heinous crime of students so that they cannot be harmed by the members of “Bois Locker Room” group.
It is horrendous to witness the creation of “Bois Locker Room 2.0” right after the busting of the original group. Instead of being contrite and abysmal, the members of this room threatened girls and pronounced rape threats on them. This conduct of the perpetrator manifests that nothing has changed and nothing ever will. Women will always be a target of male abhorrence, collectively. Presently, it is required by our judiciary to take austere action and not only let alone ensure that justice has been done but to similarly ensure that it is also to be seen.