Bois Locker Room: Is India’s Youth In Safer Hands?
Author: Divya Bothra, VITSOL, Chennai.
In India, the very recent crime committed in modern time called the “Bois Locker Room” incident has begun to trigger the mindset of youngsters. The evolution of computer technology mainly the internet which is accessed by almost half of the world’s population has progressed rapidly to which it has led to illicit fraud offences and illegal practices. These practices or offences are identified as cybercrime. The article aims to examine the current incident of Bois Locker Room which is infringing the individual’s right of privacy. In this context, it indicates different ways by which an individual can reach to commit such crime and explains the challenges, impacts and its consequences confronted by the victim. It also exhibits the boon and bane of social media platforms for students. It likewise highlights the role of law that involves the regulations and enforcement, self-countermeasures that can protect an individual from being trapped. It also illustrates an insight report of an interview, providing suggestions and concern for the future.
The “Bois locker room” incident was an Instagram scandal that allegedly involved an Instagram group which was created and handled by a few teenagers studying from prominent school in Delhi. The conversation on that group chat was flooded by offensive comments, sharing of an objectionable picture of the minor girls, morphing them using abusive language. It all started on 3rd of May 2020; an Instagram chat group was inundated with abhorrent misogynistic comments, sharing photos of underage girls, objectifying them and planning “gang-rapes”.
The group involved teenagers who were more than 26 members educating themselves from an “elite private school”. However, the later news revealed that a minor girl used a fake identity of another named “Sidharth” who was a minor boy and decided to sexually assault herself in the group chat. The idea behind this was to check the reaction of the receiver and to test the character of that person.
“INVASION OF PRIVACY”
The Bois Locker Room incident was done in an unauthorised way where it obtained an individual’s identity, their personal information that included their images as well. Such illegal practice is known as identity theft. It is done intentionally for defaming someone or for their self-satisfaction.
Criminal identity theft:
It occurs when the accuse misrepresents the information with a fake ID or other stolen documents of the victim to the police. As a result, it would be difficult for the victim to prove the false allegation against him/her.
Hacking: It refers to the activities done by seeking data from a victim’s computer or mobile phones which controls the activities of the victim.
Child identity theft:
It occurs when the criminal uses the child’s identity to gain personal benefits or other needs that benefits them. They target children as they are the easy targets to obtain information. Most of the information obtained by the criminals are remained untouched until they turn 18 years of age.
The criminals do it in a way where the browser is hijacked without the knowledge of the victim. It is done with a malicious code where it misdirects users into fraudulent websites. The purpose of this is to degrade reputation of underage children or use their identity for their personal benefits.
E.g. Bois Locker Room case
CHALLENGES CONFRONTED BY THE VICTIM
In the existing structure of Indian society, where consensual sexual relations between men and women is a taboo. The Bois locker room incident opens up a new mode of exploitation of women. The consequences faced by the victim are the threat calls, non-consensual activities done against the victim like sharing of morphed pictures, or their private pictures that are objectionable. Though the Indian society at mix is mainly into hierarchical, castes’, misogyny, racism, homophobia, patriarchal and more. The strict patriarchal control over women means that “sex” continues to remain spiritual and a “filthy” word for young men. The reluctance discussion about sex among parents to their children brings up topics like exploring one’s sexuality, ideas of masculinity and femininity, consent, building fake relations for sexual pleasure which are often left undiscussed. This ambiguous process is further complicated by a lack of sex education in Indian schools and an absence of frank public discussions about youth, sexualities, gender, and sexual desires among the students
BOIS LOCKER ROOM-IMPACT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
The Bois Locker Room case has an impact on the mindset of youngsters that can have severe consequences. The impact of the incident is not only on individuals but to the society, economy, teenager, youth, etc. The victim will not only lose financially, but also struggle with the misuse of personal data which has a profound effect on the reputation, peace, safety, and other basic values that contributes satisfaction of many desires or needs. In this incident, the impact among the teenagers who are aged below the age of 18 are more at risk and feared from cyberbullying.
As per the research, the worst fear of this crime is on female than male teenager. The sensitivity in them can reach a limit of depression up to the level of self-harm. In majority of the cases retrieving the situation sometimes becomes impossible. When it comes to the impact of youth, teens, in particular, spend hours online every day on social networking websites, apps, or other social hubs. There are various social platforms where these youth interact, text, and use other communicative ways with people all around the world which has both its advantage and disadvantage in this case the social media platform was misused by the teens. Sometimes false accusations, public shaming, defamation, and mental harassment can even cause a life while the number of suicidal cases is increasing in number among these youngsters who are the future of the nation.
In this incident of Bois Locker Room, the consequences confronted by the teenagers did not end up there as few more cases came up immediately after the incident where the victim struggles with the misuse of personal data which has a profound effect on the reputation which triggers the mental health, emotional feelings, physical symptoms, and social relationship. This also results in the breach of individual rights to privacy.
- MANAV SINGH’S SUICIDE CASE
Manav Singh was a 17-year-old boy studying in 12th standard at The Heritage School. A minor girl accused him of sexual assault on social media talking about an event which took place two years ago, when Manav was 14-15 y/o. Rishi the elder sibling of Manav narrated the incident as under what circumstances he was compelled to take a drastic step, the minor girl accused him of molestation and rape, while claiming she had no proof for it. This accusation surfaced as hashtags of Bois Locker Room incident that began to trend all over the social media. The story went viral on social media. Manav had received threat calls, and messages and he was harassed by the accuser and her friends to which Manav had tried to defend himself in front of the girl and her friends who tried to accuse him. He also tried to convince them that he was innocent, but he could not deal with the constant threats and believed that his side of the story would not be heard. According to the police, on May 4, 2020, the teenager jumped from the balcony of his flat on 11th floor in an upscale residential area Carlton estate. Following this, he was suspected to be a member of the Bois Locker Room. The police initiated an investigation under section 174 of The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to enquire and report on suicide.
The reaction to Manav’s death was elicited in mixed reaction. The sibling brother took the incident on Instagram to claim that Manav was not a rapist and he was innocent. The minor girl posted another story which said that if Manav could not handle the pressure, it is not her fault. Speaking about how contemptuous the accuser was, “She didn’t regret for a second what she wrote which not only led to a young kids demise but also shattered the life of the family”, grieved the devastated brother. Although many linked the case with the Bois Locker Room incident, the sibling stated that both are separate incidents and Manav had nothing to do with the scandalous group.
- IS SOCIAL MEDIA A BOON OR BANE OR BOTH FOR CHILDREN?
The evolution of computer technology has been revolutionised in such a way that it has pros and cons. The recent incident was a classic example of what happens when one does not use social media platform responsibly. While there are several advantages of social media for students, some cons are hard to neglect.
|It allows students to exchange notes and stay updated academically especially during lockdown.||While students focus on studying virtually amid lockdown their focus shifts while taking lessons as social media easily distracts students.|
|Social media platforms help students to access number of people. For instance, to connect with an alumni of a university for guidance.||Students become more socialising with strangers, which often students fall prey to cybercrimes.|
|It allows students with an option to be heard or seen. Likewise sharing their thoughts, opinions on some matter, spreading awareness, etc.||Students spend less time outdoors in picking up sports activities which is much required for physical development but instead they spend more time on social media,|
|Various youngster is now being able to showcase their talents where thousands of people encourage and give opportunities to teenagers on social media platforms.||Students explore their passion via social media platform like fashion bloggers that also may expose to pornographic content.|
|News media shares update on social media where the intellects are fed with updated news to keep them updated and increase the awareness among the young learners.||Students are not spending enough time reading newspaper which should be a habit that helps in visualisation but instead update themselves on social media.|
Social media is both boon and bane for children, students, and even adults. The debate has no end as it is best for students to derive the benefits of social media while being aware of the malpractices, cyber-bullying, and various other cyber-crimes that is happening and to strike a healthy balance between the real and virtual world.
ROLE OF LAW
In the Bois Locker Room incident, the police were able to register a case even without anyone coming forward to file a complaint as in this case the potential offences involved are designated as ‘cognisable offence’. The policemen themselves have the right to register a FIR for a case dealing with a cognisable offence, once they are aware of the incident. In this case, the information regarding the Bois Locker Room had become public knowledge and so that made the cell decide for investigation. In Indian criminal law, anyone who is aware of a cognisable offence can file a complaint with the police, who have to file a FIR in such cases.
REGULATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT
Certain laws have been implemented to protect and ensure the rights of an individual. The Delhi Police have reportedly registered the case under the provision of the Information Technology Act 2000(IT Act), and The Indian Penal Code 1860(IPC) and Protection of Children’s from Sexual Offences Act 2012(POCSO).
Provisions under the Information Technology Act, 2000:
- SEC 66E- deals with Violation of privacy- “this covers the sharing of images of a private area of any person without his or his consent” shall be liable with imprisonment which may extend up to 3 years or fine of up to two lakh rupees.
- SEC 67A- deals with Transmitting sexually explicit material this covers publishing obscene information or image that shows a person engaged in sexual conduct or act will be punishable with imprisonment which may extend up to 5 years or fine with up to ten lakh rupees.
- SEC 67B- deals with Transmitting sexually explicit material depicting a child- sharing of morphed images of underage girls would be considered as an offence will lead to imprisonment which may extend up to 5 years or shall also be liable to fine up to 10 lakh rupees.
Provisions under Indian Penal Code,1860:
- SEC 420- deals with Bogus websites, cyber frauds will lead to imprisonment which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.
- SEC 463- deals with Forgery- whoever makes false document will be liable with imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or with fine or both.
- SEC 499-deals with Defamation- by sending defamatory messages will be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or with fine or both.
- SEC 503- deals with Criminal intimidation- by sending threatening messages will lead to imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or with fine or both.
- Sec 509- deals with Modesty of women- whoever intending to insult the modesty of any women, utters any word, makes sound or gestures or exhibits any object or intrudes upon the privacy of such women shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and also with fine.
Provision under Protection of Children’s from Sexual Offences Act 2012:
- Sec 14- deals with Child pornography- The use of a child for pornographic purposes- that covers photos of their sexual organs or obscene representation this offence shall be punished with imprisonment of 5 years or more and with fine
- Sec 15- deals with Child pornography- Even the storage of any pornographic material involving a child is an offence and shall be held liable with imprisonment of up to 3 years and with fine.
The sharing of objectionable pictures and morphing the real images of underage girls on the Bois Locker Room group, would be a violation of these provisions and shall be held liable under these Acts and Provisions.
- SELF-COUNTERMEASURES TO PREVENT FROM BEING TRAPPED
|Do change passwords regularly. Use secure passwords.||Do not keep easy and same password for a longer period.|
|To frequently check the computer for a virus from an expert.||Avoid having viruses or malware as it can steal our identities and still hide in our computers.|
|To delete information when no longer needed or delete the account that contains information which is no longer in use.||Do not make any personal or sensitive information public on social media sites especially do not send any nudes through digital.|
|To approach the police immediately when being harassed online to stop the further risk of cyber-bullying.||Do not sit idle as that would only make the situation worst and would make the bully think that one is just scared and will not be of any harm.|
|Children must be educated about cyber-related crimes and about not sharing information with others.||Do not let the children of certain age use gadgets as it involves a lot of risk where they might end up getting into trouble|
|People should be cautious while inserting the password on social media in public.||Do not share passwords with anyone, any close friend or with any trusted person.|
INSIGHT REPORT OF AN INTERVIEW
Having analysed the interview, the first and obvious consensus among the interviewees was that the Bois Locker Room incident was no way acceptable and justifiable. There was a mutual acceptance of that it was the boys’ fault for sharing the “lewd” pictures of their batchmates on social media. An interviewee believes that nowadays boys and girls “Do not differentiate themselves between sharing an opinion or defaming someone”. In this incident, the interviewee thinks that the students who were the offenders went wrong when they decided to do body shame and share morphed pictures, including a minor girl who decided to sexually assault herself. While other interviewee thinks that discussing ‘gang-rape’ was when the boys crossed the line. Hence, it is understood that objectifying, targeting, is considered to be ‘inhumane’ as rape is unacceptable among the people of any generation whether new or old.
Another interviewee believes that the incident was a case of “invasion of Privacy” by those who shared the nude pictures of girls to other on social media since those pictures where given to them based on ‘trust’. The problem here is that people do not realise that over-sexualization is, in fact, a problem and not just privacy. On being asked if exchanging nude pictures online on the part of underage boys and girls is acceptable or not, to that an interviewee replied that its “completely fine” that’s the motive of things happening virtually or the social media is all about. One thinks that “something that might be obscene for you, might be completely fine for me” and that’s completely an individual’s ‘choice’.
While approaching the other interviewee, she wished to stay anonymous, as she did not wish to interview because she felt that it is just too much drama. This shows how today’s generation is so worried about taking a stand and to not be a part of any ‘drama’, even if they know speaking up is the correct thing to do.
One thing that is understood is that people in our generation do not believe in social media guidelines as a possible solution to this problem. While one interviewee believes that “beyond a certain age” kids will not listen to what their parents have to say, if the parents are too intrusive. She thinks that such children will “hide” and do things the way they want to no matter how much their parents try to control them. Another interviewee thinks that “monitoring anybody’s social media would not help at all because people will find a loophole to do it either way”.
The report reveals to us how the respondents have their perspective of social media platforms. The respondents had agreed on the opinion of everyone as to what happened in that incident is just not acceptable or justifiable. However, both the genders have a problem of objectifying people based on their bodies, but people tend to highlight that trait in males more than in females. As we are all aware of the Bois Locker Room incident, following that there were alleged screenshots of “GIRLS LOCKER ROOM” groups made by girls as well while the girl’s group did not get the media cover as compared to the boys. After looking at this, the opinion towards Feminism brings back to its faulty perception that our generation already has.
SUGGESTIONS AND FUTURE CONCERN
The article discusses about the Bois Locker Room incident where the teenagers involve themselves in an Instagram chat group sharing morphed pictures of underage girls. Practically speaking, any generation whether old or new, every single teenager wishes to be understood among their peers. A serious question as to what do individuals fall prey to? It is the peer pressure that gets reinforced with peers. Children must be given adequate parental attention when their children are young so that they can at least differentiate between what is right and wrong, the difference between banter and abuse. They must have a proper mutual and equal respect for one another irrespective of the gender. Sending children to a good school does not make him or her a good person it is the moral education that is important for the children, and that is something that can start from home.
As the future concerns, in such a situation, the relationship between the parent and the child must be of a best friend first, so that the children are not afraid of sharing things freely to their parents. If this sort of relationship exists, then the parent will know where the child is going wrong, and it will be easier for them to correct their children even at a later stage. In addition to parents taking responsibility, educational institutions should also focus on teaching a good value system amongst children. To bring changes for the better future, removing the sense of taboo should be the first step, we have to get out of that sort, so that we as a society must be comfortable to discuss on sexual activity. As individuals, there must be a sense of responsibility while using social media as restricting social media is not an option.
The Bois Locker Room incident created problems that are more deep-rooted than they seem and that the solution to it is the sensitisation of children at a young age and ensuring that they are brought up in a safe and an educated environment. It is the primary responsibility of parents to inject good values in their children, while some measures should also be taken by schools. With the increment in technology, there must be stricter laws so that law finds a balance between protecting citizens or children from crime and infringing on their rights. The “Bois locker room” incident should be considered as a tale of caution. As the future concerns, there will always be new and unexpected crimes challenging the society. To stay ahead of such crimes, the government and the citizens should work hand in hand. However, India has taken a lot of security measures to stop cybercrime, but the cyber law needs to change with the changing time as it cannot afford to be static.
- Jyothi Yadav, 4 May, 2020 11:22 pm, https://theprint.in/india/delhi-womens-commission-wants-bois-locker-room-probed-sends-notice-to-instagram-police/414350/. The Print. 2020-05-11
- IAN, 6 May 2020, 4:52 pm, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/covid-19-in-situ-construction-bring-hopes-back-for-workers-in-delhi/articleshow/75575710.cms. The Times of India.
- July 21, 2020,https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/bois-locker-room-case-police-file-fir-after-girl-complains-of-offensive-threat-messages-online-6449432/. The Indian Express
- OpIndia Staff, 8 May, 2020 https://www.opindia.com/2020/05/manav-singh-suicide-gurugram-bois-locker-room-sexual-abuse-mens-rights/. OpIndia Staff.
- Mirror Now Digital, 7 May, 2020 https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/crime/article/gurugram-teen-suicide-cops-probing-link-to-bois-locker-room-chat-group/588318. Mirror Now News.
 Unauthorised- It is do something without the permission or authority of someone.
 Victim- It is someone on whom it is acted upon or a person who is deceived or cheated.
 Non-consensual- It is to do something without the agreement of all the people involved
 Morphed- It is a transformation of images by small gradual steps using computer animation techniques
 Cyberbullying- It is a form of bullying or harassment which is done by using electronic means.
 The constitution of India, 1949.
 OpIndia Staff 7 May, 2020 https://www.opindia.com/2020/05/he-was-not-a-rapist-stop-calling-him-that-brother-of-the-class-12-boy-who-committed-suicide-says-that-social-media-made-him-a-rapist-overnight/. The OpIndia.
 The Information Technology Act, 2000
 Indian Penal Code,1860
 The Protection of Children’s from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
 Over- sexualisation- It means to make something sexual in character or to become aware of sexuality.
 Feminism- It is the advocacy of women’s right on the ground of the equality of the sexes.