Across the world, including India, for most purposes, all young persons in
the age group of 0-18 years would be legally considered a child. Several
socio-legal and economic factors contribute to and encompass the personality of
a child. Much of what becomes of a person is a result of his lived experiences.
The current generation is growing up engulfed by and completely engrossed in
technology. People of all age groups have access to highly personalized social
media. Media plays a huge role in influencing children's behavioural
development. Exposure to age-inappropriate and violent content can have an
adverse impact on the thought-process of a child, which might lead to moral
decay of the society as a whole. Aggravated sexual depiction of men and women
can create a dent in the understanding of sexual behaviour and normalize sexual
objectification of women and even children. Exposure to inappropriate content
can make them more susceptible to being taken advantage of or engaging in crimes
Due to advancement in technology, the cloak of anonymity can lead one to drop
one's inhibitions and indulge in activities which one otherwise wouldn't.
Several chat rooms, which guarantee privacy, have become a digital hangout for
Amidst lockdown, when the whole world is fighting the nationwide pandemic of
COVID-19, a disturbing news surfaced on May 4th, 2020 about the bois locker
room, where India witnessed a passage of debates on internalized misogyny and
perpetration of rape culture. The issue has raised serious concerns regarding
consent, privacy and the ‘boys will be boys' culture. As most of the boys are
underage, they would be tried under Juvenile Justice Act.
What is Juvenile Justice?
The word Juvenile
has originated from the Latin word Juveniles
which means young. A Juvenile means a person who has not attained the age of
majority or is below the age of 18
The history of Juvenile Justice Act can be traced to the British Era. It was
enacted to address some of the matters of Juvenile misconduct. The introduction
of Whipping Act of 1864 is one of the major examples. According to this law,
the juveniles were punished by way of whipping for the crimes committed by them
to incite fear and to bring an end to such crimes or actions. The Indian Penal
Code 1860, and the Criminal Procedure Code 1861, took forward the matter by
treating the children differently throughout their various provisions.
A recent social media scandal, which involved a chat room named Bois Locker Room
became the centre of public attention when an Instagram user, on May 3rd, 2020,
leaked chats from the group, including obscene pictures of around 15-16 girls. A
case was registered on the grounds of transmitting obscene/sexually explicit
content, outraging the modesty of a woman, forgery and use of obscene language.
The Delhi Police took suo moto cognizance of the matter after the Delhi
Commission for Women took up the same and issued a notice to Instagram and Delhi
Police. The Cyber Crime Cell of the Delhi Police then registered an FIR under
sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act and Sections 465, 469, 471 and 509 of the IPC.
Two other incidents that run parallel to the locker room scandal were falsely
linked to it. In one of the incidents a girl on snapchat impersonating as a guy
proposed to gang-rape herself.
It was apparently done to check the integrity of the receiver. In another
case which took a tragic turn, a girl accused one Manav Singh, a 17-year old boy
of molesting her in an Instagram post. Manav allegedly died of suicide after he
started being harassed on social media. This raises the question of
accountability of social media trials where the public acts as the judge and
delivers judgment before the case even reaches the courts.
We need to realize that the ‘bois locker room' incident is a symptom of a
disease in our society and not the root of it.The thread posted by the
Instagram user transpired into a series of name-calling, blame games and
subsequent rape threats in a bid to offload responsibility.
But in a way, it also sparked conversations and underscored on the need to talk
about and debate on the need to propagate gender sensitivity, to have open
conversations about sex as one of the reasons why the length of a skirt is
sexualized is because a significant part of the population has not received
proper sex education which in turn, has transformed into perverted perception
about body parts and judging the character of women based on what they wear and
even at times, attributing responsibility on a victim because of what she wore
when an incident happened.
The case of Bois Locker Room
has raised the conversation about the rape
culture that permeates within the society. Infact, the police registered an FIR
when one of the girls alleged that she was receiving offensive and threat
messages after she shared the screenshots of the chats..
After this incident many questions were raised one of them was can the morphed
photograph of the minor be treated as child sexual abuse and child pornography?
Child pornography means portrayal of minors through videos, photographs or
computer-generated content in a sexually explicit way. It is one of the most
heinous crimes because it encourages rape of the children among other things.
Section 293 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860states that, the
distribution circulation and exhibition of obscene material below the age of
twenty years is a criminal offence and such acts will be considered as
Section 14 under POSCO Act criminalizes any form of act where there is use of
the children for pornographic purpose in any form of media including the
portrayal private parts, the sexual organs, or the portrayal of the child in an
inappropriate way. It also criminalises the storage of pornographic content
for that commercial purpose.
Section 11(V) punishes the one who threatens to use the body of the child or
depicts that child has been involved in any form of sexual activity in any form
of media real of fabricated depiction through electronic film or any other
The Information Technology Act, 2000 criminalises any action of sexual
harassment in the form of photographs or in the form of child pornography and
Section, 65B criminalises the circulation and publication, which shows the
children in explicit sexual acts.
The ongoing discussion on the Bois Locker room is a similar placed judgement in
the court of United States. The case named United States of America V
GlibertoValle revolved around the issue that whether the court should punish
a person for having disturbing sexual fantasies.
Gliberto Valle used to have the sexual fantasies about killing, raping and
harming women. Sometimes he also had fantasies of eating women as well as his
wife. He often used to share the pictures of his wife and other women on Dark
Fetish Network where he conveyed his desire to rape and eat women .Valle was
then arrested and charged with the conspiracy to kidnap women. However, after
his conviction the judge overturned the judgement saying that there is no such
evidence to differentiate between fantasy and reality.
Though the fact of the present case was different with respect to Gliberto Valle
case but was an act which objectified women without their consent which is a
crime under the IPC and various other Sections of IT Act.And now this brings
us to the issue that whether retributive justice can help in bringing about
changes in the pre-existing misogynist culture which normalises rape against
The theory of retributive justice means linking the history to law which takes
into account of the crime and surrounding circumstances. The theory of
retributive justice is deep-rooted in the belief that a crime carries with
itself a moral blameworthiness and the punishment should be equivalent to the
moral deficit arising out of the act committed. However, in order to bring the
offenders a sense of accountability, they should instead be counselled and
sensitized towards other genders instead of throwing them into a bottomless pit
of criminal justice.
It is anguishing to see that the younger generation assumes that they have a say
on a person's body or character and we still haven't resolved to a constructive
discourse to tackle this issue effectively. Legal punishments might incite fear
in the minds of people but would not necessarily change their mind set. While an
initiative was taken by the Delhi Government to add gender sensitisation to the
curriculum, but it eventually resulted in mere campaigns with no or very less
interest shown by other institutions. What we need is to educate people,
identify and debunk problematic patterns at the very onset.
An effective discourse needs to be formulated to tackle cyber bullying, to make
people realize that their actions can have legal consequences and to educate the
people at the receiving end of their rights and responsibilities.
- Dr. Mohua Nigudkar,e-PGPathshala,Child: Definition and Social construct
of Child and Childhood(2014) 1520851344ChildandSocialConstruct_Module.pdf
- Priyanshi Bainwala - NMIMS School of Law, Bengaluru and
- Pragya Upadhyay - Chanakya National Law University