This Article is From May 05, 2020

When Teen Boys Talk Of Raping Their Classmates

Two days ago, a couple in Delhi had a falling out. Nothing unusual, especially since staying together during the lockdown isn't necessarily igniting romance in every home. In this case, both were teens. You would think the split was the usual rite of passage for any schoolboy or girl. But here is where the script veers off. The boy didn't take the break up too well and threatened his ex with rape. Not content with fuming in private, he took his angst to a group chat on Snapchat - the favourite hunting ground of today's teens simply because conversations and videos can disappear and leave no trail - and shared his desire to gang-rape the girl he broke up with recently.

While school group circles were digesting this threat of violence, it turns out some other boys also in Delhi had the same extreme thoughts. Part of an Instagram handle 'Bois Locker Room' where the administrator is 15, they spoke about gang-raping a school girl they know. The filth on the group is unmitigated. Social media is the elixir of this generation and hiding behind the anonymity of the virtual world, some of the seventy boys on the group transitioned into the worst sort of characters. At an age where they should have been debating when Virat Kohli will walk into the middle again, they morphed bodies of fellow classmates, sexualizing them in the worst sort of way.

For this generation living in the social media bubble, easy does it and remorse is rarely part of the vocabulary. Some of the boys threatened to leak nudes of the girls who had disclosed the chats on their Instagram stories. A few months ago, eight boys were suspended from one of Mumbai's most prestigious schools. Their language was similar, chats with 'rape' and 'gang bang'. Many of their parents are celebrities, in Delhi too these boys are from 'good families.' In both these instances, the children are entitled and empowered. You don't need to play '13 Reasons Why' to figure out what's going on.

"Children make mistakes": many parents excused the Mumbai boys saying precisely this. But this wasn't a mistake. Throwing 'rape' around casually is not the same as bunking an exam, it is instead the crossover to a side where there is little respect for a woman and a sense of entitlement in objectifying her. Where misogyny and slut-shaming won't change because it takes us 8 years to punish those who raped Nirbhaya. Our justice is always too little too late, even when we top the charts as the most dangerous country for women.

So instead, mothers tell their girls don't wear short skirts, schools tell the girls to tie up their hair, and fathers shrug at boys and say it's a phase. Our sexism is so shrill that many who bravely chose to speak on #MeToo were asked to prove their allegations. As a society, we always push back against the uncomfortable.

"There is a boy in class 12 who I know. He hooks up and records women and has their nudes saved in his phone specifically on 'My Eyes Only' feature on Snapchat that allows privacy. He has a stash of 200 videos. If you look at him, you will never believe it, he is very decent looking," a Delhi schoolgirl tells me. In the digital age, school corridors are the new battleground. Privilege is a curse for so many children, a generation that has the best of education, but nothing to show for it.

And yet, our schools and society still don't give sex education the attention it deserves, consent, much like in Bollywood movies, counts for nothing. "Schools need to teach boys that showing skin is not an invitation to sexualize or objectify it. Do they look at Bella Hadid or Kylie Jenner like that?" a student said to me. Schoolgirls in the NCR region say the word "rape" in school circles is used almost humorously.

In a few days, things will die down again, parents of the boys involved will remain quiet as they did in Mumbai. While our girls as the Instagram generation are completely exposed.

Social media may be this generation's biggest chink. It makes them and breaks them.

(Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava worked with NDTV for more than a decade and now writes on a variety of topics for several news organisations.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.