Published: 05th October 2020
Bois Locker Room 2? Telegram group shares pictures of women from Instagram profiles and objectifies them with lewd comments
One of the victims found out that her photos were being circulated on the group by someone who claimed to know her very well
Months after the Bois Locker Room incident rocked the country, another such group has been identified on social media. This time it is on social messaging app Telegram. According to an affected person whose picture has been shared on the group sans permission, the group XDKing 4All has numerous posts where women's Instagram photos have been shared and vulgar comments followed. Cyber expert Shubham Singh who worked on the Bois Locker Room case tells us that this is a clear case of identity theft and cyber harassment.
One of the victims, Namita*, found out that her photos were being circulated on the group by someone who claimed to know her very well. "I got to know from my batchmate, Manish*, from college that my photos were being shared on the group. These were all pictures from my private Instagram profile. When Manish asked the person on a private chat whether he knew the girl in the picture (Namita), he said that he had been going around with me behind my boyfriend's back and then went on to details of what he has done to my body. He also shared a few photos of me with one of my friends and claimed that he is the one in the picture," said Namita. She enquired with the friend in the picture and he is thinking of legal pathways to respond.
The comments on the group range from commenting on a woman's body to describing sexual deeds in excruciating and horrifying detail. The pictures are mostly from Instagram profiles of women from every walk of life and some from profiles of models. These are not explicit photos but the comments on them are as lewd as it gets. "It does not matter whether it is a nude photo or just an Instagram post, the photo was posted without consent from the owner of the photo and then they were subjected to sexual harassment on cyberspace. That is the crime," said Shubham.
Shubham, who has been handling such cases on a regular basis, said that cyber harassment and identity theft has risen during the lockdown. "They download a bunch of Instagram images and then put it in a drive and sell those. The buyers are mostly the fraudulent dating apps which create fake profiles with these photos. There are different categories of photos. Instagram photos of people like us, photos of models and nudes. They make bundles of these images and upload it on a file-sharing platform and then sell it. During the lockdown, cyber harassment cases have seen a surge and a lot of them have been traced back to Rajasthan," he said. "Even if they are not selling it, it is a crime to post someone's photo in a forum without their knowledge. The vilifying comments amount to cyber harassment of the individual. If the girl is underage (like in the Bois Locker Room case) then a case can be filed under POCSO as well. One can go to the nearest police station and lodge a complaint or use the website cybercrime.gov.in to lodge anonymous complaints. The police can ask for the number from the service provider and then track the perpetrator down," reiterated Shubham. Namita has decided not to take legal steps as of yet.
Though the mentality, psychologists have said, comes from making sex a taboo and that it has always been there in our society, the Bois Locker Room scandal blew the lid off this. A bunch of teenage boys from South Delhi, mostly still in school, created the Instagram group chatroom called Bois Locker Room to share photos of women (a majority of them underage) and then hold discussions where they objectified women in very graphic, sexual and lewd language. The teenagers not only shared private pictures but also morphed them. The police initially tracked 10 of them down and went on to interrogate more teenagers.
Experts say that anything that is hushed up or not talked about incites more curiosity and it often takes a demented route because it is not well-guided. keeping sex and sexual acts a taboo to uphold Indian values might not help as the internet opens the world to the Indian kids who often stray down the wrong path. Sex education is present in schools but is not taught properly because the teachers too think it is not something one can discuss. One more thing that adds to the mentality of objectifying women is the content we produce which is filled with misogyny and objectification of the woman's body.
(* names changed to protect identity)