TW: Violence, Sexism, Sexual assault.
The #BoisLockerRoom has managed to hit headlines even when the whole world is battling a global pandemic. What is it about? The #BoisLockerRoom was a group on Instagram, of teenager boys, sharing pictures of underage girls and talking about threatening, assaulting, and raping them.
Not only is it immoral, but it is also illegal to morph and share images of people’s private parts under Section 66E of the IT Act and Section 354C (Voyeurism) of the Indian Penal Code.
The law restricts such comments, but we know the problem is deeper than that. It’s the rape culture that has come out in its true colours threatening the safety of our women. What’s more unfortunate is that such ‘locker room talks’ have been ‘normalised,’ which even the ‘best’ of men have been a part of. It’s time to change this narrative. This case gives us an opportunity to unite and take the threats down while it is on the surface.
There are men who have come forward to take ownership of the damage that the #LockerRoomTalks are capable of. Many have admitted that even they have been part of one but have stayed silent. “I have been part of such groups when I was younger where misogynist and degrading videos were sent on a daily basis. I did not say anything then as it was uncomfortable to talk about and call out violence intended on women,” said a 30-year-old man.
There is no better example right now at hand than the #BoysLockerRoom group chat that shows that the young boys are exposed to misogyny and sexist threads in social media groups. The reciprocation can also be mapped to the family groups where we see casual sexism flowing without being called out.
Let’s address this culture of internalised misogyny. As some of the boys involved are said to be as young as 16-years-old, it is evident that misogyny starts from an early age, and it’s important for us to counter this by having appropriate education for the youth that includes Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE).
It’s a good time to ask the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) to ramp up measures on gender sensitisation in the education system.
Quoting directly from a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, “The relationship between gender and violence is complex. School-based programmes can address gender norms and attitudes before they become deeply ingrained in children and youth. Such initiatives address gender norms, dating violence and sexual abuse among teenagers and young adults.”
We already have some progress on this. In a statement in the Lok Sabha, last year in July, Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development, mentioned the role and importance of National Council of Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks in promoting gender sensitisation in textbooks for school children.
As the matter is seemingly already on the government’s agenda, and we have a fresh case on hand—the #BoysLockerRoom threatening the safety of young girls and women—it’s the perfect time to ask the ministries to induce gender-sensitisation seminars, activities and Comprehensive Sex Education.
Consciously or unconsciously, we have all been part of the ‘locker room’ conversations—it could be sexist WhatsApp forwards, it could be a group chat degrading a woman.
It’s important for us to pledge to reject these conversations and build a community to share resources so that we can find better ways to fight such threats. The locker room can be said to be a part of an organised set up of young boys talking about rape. An organised approach with shared resources can help us fight the rape culture better without being feeling burnt out by limited isolated comments.
Jhatkaa.org is asking people to come together and take ownership of being a part of the rape culture and with the acceptance, find solutions to address it.
One of the solutions is to ask the MWCD and MHRD to make sure gender sensitisation is induced into the education system.
Women deserve to live without the anxiety of ‘hurting the male ego‘ and the threat of getting ‘punished’ for it. Women deserve the peace of mind of not being attacked for being present in a public place or on a platform, and for exercising their agency.
Let’s take the first step— let’s vow to take action, to speak up next time and not trivialise something that contributes to rape culture, no matter how small it seems to be.