In early March this year, the digital arm of Dharma Production released the movie, Guilty on Netflix. The Kiara Advani-starrer dealt with a sensitive subject of rape, and it was based on a background of Delhi’s privileged college-going community. The complex film wasn’t received with great appreciation. One of the reasons could be… it’s imbibed in us that the concept of rape is linked to the education or social background of the doer. We will come to that.
In the wee hours of May 4, a term started gaining traction on social media, and there was something new on the top of the trending list on most platforms. The trending term, which most of you may have realised by now, was an eye-dialect of a familiar term ‘boys locker room’- ‘boislockerroom’.
For those who might have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, an Instagram group was made by an 18-year-old with male students of prominent South Delhi schools as its members.
Although initially the conversations revolved around their daily routine and sharing memes, the nature of the chat changed when few members started posting photos of girls, including morphed ones, which led to a sequence of sexually explicit comments from some of the members.
This isn’t new. Last year, a top-ranked IB School in Mumbai suspended eight of its students, aged between 13 and 14, for making ‘gang rape’ threats to their female classmates on WhatsApp.
Since the infamous 2012 Delhi rape case, one would think the amount of awareness brought forth in the subsequent years regarding the rape culture in India would have had an impact somewhere. But instead, we have reached another conclusion that rape culture isn’t just confined within the unschooled section of the society, but is very much prominent within the literate, high earning sections of society as well.
Dr Jaya Sukul, a clinical psychologist, based in Delhi, blames patriarchy and entitlement as the two main reasons for why such culture prevails in society. “The sections of society have been governed by patriarchy historically that even a lot of insults are at the expense of females,” said Dr Sukul.
When growing up, we all may have heard the phrases: ‘Don’t cry like a girl’, ‘you run like a girl’. This can subconsciously imbibe into the minds of kids that one gender is superior to the other.
“Secondly, the problem with the current generation, both boys and girls, is the feeling of entitlement,” Dr Sukul continued. The materialistic culture that is non-gender specific has let them “take things for granted and not understand that their actions can have consequences.”
PORN CONSUMPTION IN INDIA
According to Pornhub Insights, in 2019, India moved down 12 positions from its previous 3rd position among the top 20 countries to visit Pornhub. This could be due to the usage of VPNs since the Indian government blocked access to many pornographic websites. But there is no denying that India, with its vast population, consumes a lot of porn.
Contrary to popular belief, many health experts around the world believe there is nothing inherently wrong in consuming porn.
“Sexual desires are normal human phenomena. Watching porn can help people take out frustration or for the release of a sort of latent energy,” Sukul explained. Instead, Dr Sukul believes that one should keep a check on what kind of content he/she is watching, and that is where the problem lies.
DOES SCHOOL EDUCATION PUT IMPERATIVE VALUES INTO CHILDREN?
There is a misunderstanding that if everyone is literate and is educated, inhumane things will stop occurring. Dr Sukul has these questions to ask about what we deem to be education “Is learning about history, mathematics, geography what we call education as a society? Do we actually imbibe any humanitarian principles from them?”
In view of the existing education system in India, Dr Sukul believes that a person needs to achieve a post-graduate level of education to understand philosophical principles, ideologies and politics enough to question them.
“ [Up until then,] we are not given a value-based education, it is simply a career-based education,” she said. Talking about sex education, she added, “[Sex education] about just performative functions is not enough; it has to be taught in the most sociological perspective as well. In the name of sex education, we learn about periods and sexual intercourse. But does it teach us not to harass someone?”
CYBERCRIME LAWS IN INDIA
According to a 2019 report, India stands at 133rd position out of 167 nations in women, peace and security index which is based on parameters of inclusion, justice and security. India is also among the very few countries to enact Information Technology (IT) Act 2000 to curb cybercrimes.
But according to Sonam Chandwani, a lawyer and a managing partner at a Mumbai-based law firm, the laws are not keeping up with the cybercrimes and security issues cropped up in recent times.
“If laws don’t keep pace with the changing nature and face of crimes, many cybercriminals will get away with novel wrongdoings in the cyberspace. A crime will have been committed but not recognised as one under the Indian laws,” Chandwani said.
She also added that Indian police tends to treat cybercrimes leniently and advised that victims of cyber victimisation should first contact an NGO or special assistance cells.
“Stalking, spoofing, and defamation over the internet are not considered as grave crimes against women, and by women – partly because of the challenging road to justice and partly due to the social stigma associated to it,” Chandwani further added.
As of May 17, the Delhi police have identified all the 27 members in the group. An 18-year-old accused of having created the group has been arrested, and a minor has been apprehended. Along with the ‘boislockerroom’ chatbox screenshots, an unrelated Snapchat screenshot also had circulated.
After investigation, it was revealed that the ‘sexual assault’ Snapchat conversation was started by a juvenile girl posing as a male to another juvenile boy to test his character and values. The girl was recently given a clean chit by the police saying the girl did not have any “malicious intention to defraud or cheat anyone using that fake profile and hence no case will be made out”.
Although the members of the infamous Instagram group did not discuss sexual assault, they are currently accused of sharing sexually explicit chats, body shaming, sharing morphed pictures of acquaintances, some of whom are minors.