What can you do post a Bois Locker Room scenario?
Note: This article is simply a guide to the possible ways of taking action against sexual harassment. It is not intended to pressurise or shame one into speaking up if they do not feel safe or do not have the support system to do so.
In May 2020, an online chat group called Bois Locker Room consisting of a group of teenage boys from Delhi was exposed on the Internet. Members of the group, supposedly students from some of Delhi's top schools, shared photos of teenage girls (some of which were morphed) without their consent, making highly inappropriate comments about them and their bodies. This sparked outrage about rape-culture, casual misogyny and objectification in online spaces, especially among young people.
For many men, this exposé came as a shocker. For women and gender minorities, however, online sexual harassment, objectification and sexualization of their bodies, unsolicited and unwelcome comments, receiving rape and death threats or intimidation, are situations they find themselves in only too often.
Women and girls — you deserve to be safe online. You do not have to tolerate bad behaviour by online predators. You can take action against them. If you want to, or feel that you need to, the guide below offers some quick fixes, explains situations that are legally actionable, and how you can take legal action.
Abuse and harassment, whether online or offline, are never the fault of the victim, and the onus of preventing abuse shouldn’t be on them. Be as that may, abusers (who are in a majority of all cases, men) are not going to change and stop carrying out abuse overnight.
Here are some ways you can stop online abuse if you are experiencing it:
1. Block abusers on social media: Platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube, and Reddit, allow you to block accounts. This is one way of ending interaction with a particular account or person.
2. Report users to intermediaries (WhatsApp, Instagram, etc). All these platforms allow you to report abuse.
3. Approach the police station and file an FIR. Click on this link that shows you how to, who can, and where to file an FIR.
4. Report cyber crimes online to the Cyber Crime Reporting Portal. This can be done anonymously. Visit www.cybercrime.gov.in
5. Call the cyber crime helpline number between 9am to 6pm. The number is 155260.
Do you want to take legal action against an abuser? What are some situations that are legally actionable?
(Legal complaints can be filed in person at a police station, by calling the cyber crime helpline, or through the online cyber crime portal.)
1. Child Porn
Are you under the age of 18? Is someone sending sexually explicit pictures or videos of you to other people, or sending you sexually explicit material in any form?
If you are above the age of 18-
Has someone sent you sexually explicit videos or photos of a child via an electronic medium i.e email, WhatsApp, Snapchat or other platforms? Have you seen someone browsing the internet for sexually explicit photos or videos of children? Have you visited a pornographic website only to find a category called child porn? All this and more is legally punishable and constitutes child pornography.
You can file a complaint against a person who watches, browses, or uses child porn for commercial purposes. They can be punished with upto five years of jail time and a fine. This falls under Section 67B of the Information Technology ("IT" )Act and Section 14 and 15 of the Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act.
2. Sexual Harassment
If someone publishes nude pictures of you or any woman they are punishable with a sentence of up to three years and fine up to 5 lakhs under Section 67 of the IT Act.
If someone publishes a picture or video that displays sexually explicit acts such as sexual intercourse without the consent of the people involved it is punishable under Section 67A of the IT Act.
If someone sends you pornographic material without your consent they are liable to be punished under Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code ("IPC").
3. Distribution Of Personal Photos And Videos
If someone takes, distributes, or publishes your personal photographs or videos without your permission, it is considered a crime. For example, if someone takes pictures of your private parts and posts them on their Facebook account, they have committed the offence of violation of privacy. The punishment can be jail time of up to three years or a fine of up to two lakh rupees, or both, under Section 66E of the IT Act.
It is also a crime to take, view, or circulate pictures of women engaged in private acts (voyeurism) as per Section 354C of the IPC.
If someone intentionally or with malice writes something online to try and insult you or your religious beliefs they can be punished with a jail term up to three years, or a fine, or both, under Section 295A of the IPC.
6. Unwanted Sexual Messages + Morphing
If someone sends you pornographic content against your will, sends non-consensual sexually explicit messages, or edits your image into content which is abusive or sexually coloured they can be punished with a jail term of five years and a fine of up to five lakh rupees under Section 67 of the IT Act.
7. Cyber Defamation
If someone falsely accuses you of something that might harm your reputation; for example, if they tell people that you are addicted to drugs or alcohol; they can be punished under Section 499 and 500 of the IPC.
8. Hacking And Unauthorised Access
Has someone tried to log into any of your social media accounts without your permission? Has someone changed the password of your email ID? Or have they fraudulently downloaded or copied information from your phone, laptop or any other device?
You can claim compensation from them under Section 24 (dishonesty) and 25 (fraud) of the IPC and Section 43 (damage to a computer system) of the IT Act.
9. Anonymous Threats And Blackmail
Several women get rape and death threats (or intimidating remarks of a lesser degree) over social media. If you get anonymous threats online or you are blackmailed online, you can file a complaint with the cyber cell or local police.
To file a complaint, it is not necessary to know who is responsible for the crime. You should try to tell the police whatever you know, but you don’t have to know all the details.
The person threatening or blackmailing you may be punished with jail time pot up to seven years, or a fine, or both, under Section 503 (criminal intimidation), 506 (punishment for the above) and 507 (criminal intimidation by anonymous communication).
Have you ever been repeatedly harassed and stalked on social media? Has this alarmed, annoyed, or intimidated you?
The above mentioned conduct amounts to cyberstalking and is punishable under Section 354D of the IPC, for a sentence of three years, along with a fine.
If you would like further clarification on the above, or on how to block, report, or file an FIR, please end us a DM on Instagram, or send us an email at
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