'Bois Locker Room' and the era of digital mob lynching

It’s important for us to seek safety for our girls and daughters, but we should not encourage an environment where our boys and sons are not even heard.

Deepika Bhardwaj May 12, 2020 20:27:41 IST
'Bois Locker Room' and the era of digital mob lynching

While the world is battling coronavirus, an incident that ha made ripples across the nation in the last few days has been the 'Bois Locker Room' controversy. A bunch of school-going boys and some adults created a private Instagram group to share images of young girls, including minor girls; and pass sexually explicit comments, objectify and shame in crass, vulgar and offensive language. The chats were leaked by a boy who got added to the group. He shared these chats with some of the girls whose pictures were shared.

Subsequently, a campaign was started to shame these boys and to seek strict action against them. As these chats did the rounds on social media, a screenshot also cropped up wherein two boys appeared to be discussing the rape of a girl. The Delhi Commission for Women took suo motu cognisance of the case.

However, when investigations began, it was found that the chat was actually initiated by a minor girl who created a fake ID to discuss sexual assault to “test the character of the boy she was chatting with”.

Bois Locker Room and the era of digital mob lynching

Representational image. Image: Reuters

I have closely observed this case since the beginning and am in possession of uncensored chats that took place in the “Bois Locker Room”. Let me first clarify some facts. These boys did not share any nudes or morph images of minor girls. There was no planning of rape or sexual assault in the group. The images shared were mostly ones posted on social media by girls themselves. This group was a private one. Nevertheless, it’s a fact that these conversations are problematic. It is also true that they have been normalised. Any girl who is subjected to such derogatory comments is bound to feel threatened, intimidated, scared and disgusted. That’s exactly what happened in this case, and it was right on the girls' part to object to such conversations and ask for action.

What’s deeply problematic here is the digital mob-lynch mentality that immediately jumped to conclusions when an accusation was made by the girl. No one sought to ascertain the facts. These are the faultines that became apparent during, among other cases, some #MeToo accusations.

We can’t become oblivious to the fact that we have become a hyper-sexualised society. Porn is available at the touch of a button, semi-porn is being made available in the name of teenage love stories and adult comedy applauded and cheered. Instagram posts of many minors will show you that alcohol, drugs and obscenity have seeped deeply into their lives. Songs with extreme sexual connotations are a feature, finding favour with both girls and boys. And the highly sexualised content featuring young girls is impacting the behaviour of the boys who view these images. There’s no doubt that the boys who were part of the Instagram group were at fault, but did they deserve to be compared with gang-rapists? No.

We have the police and courts to look into facts and evidence. We cannot allow social media to become equivalent to a court of law. It’s important for us to seek safety for our girls and daughters, but we should not encourage an environment where our boys and sons are not even heard.

The Bois Locker Room episode should lead to conversations about the depravity that’s entered the lives of our youngsters, but alas, outrage now takes the lead over meaningful discussions.​

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