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‘Bois locker room’: Indian teen probed over Instagram rape chats

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One woman reported a rape every 15 minutes on average in 2018, according to Indian government data [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Police in India are investigating a teenage boy over an online chat group that made light of gang rape and where members shared images of teenage girls, causing a backlash on social media.

An Instagram chat group called “bois locker room” was the top trending hashtag on Twitter India on Tuesday, with many tweets using screenshots from the group to highlight derogatory comments made about women and trivialising sexual assault.

“Based on the information online and our technical investigation, we identified a boy and apprehended him,” Anyesh Roy, deputy commissioner of police in the Delhi Police’s cybercrime unit told the Reuters news agency.

“We took relevant details from him and he was handed over to his parents,” he added. “We have seized his mobile phone.”

Police have identified 20 other members of the group, all Class XI and XII students enrolled in various New Delhi schools, according to India’s NDTV network.

Roy said investigations into the other people in the group chat were ongoing relating to breaches of various laws, including transmitting obscene material and insulting the modesty of women.

On Monday, the state-run Delhi Commission for Women issued a notice to the police requesting action be taken against the members of the chat group, and sent another notice to Instagram seeking details of the group’s members.

A representative for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it did “not allow behaviour that promotes sexual violence or exploits anyone, especially women and young people”.

Action is taken against any content that violates the platform’s community standards, said the representative.

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One rape every 15 minutes

Sexual violence against women has become a major issue in India since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi that prompted tough new laws.

In March this year, the four men convicted in the case were hanged in a prison in the capital.

But experts say poor implementation of the laws has resulted in few signs of let-up in sexual assault cases.

One woman reported a rape every 15 minutes on average in 2018, according to government data, underlining the country’s dismal reputation as one of the worst places in the world to be a female.

A Reuters poll of gender experts in 2018 rated India as the world’s most dangerous country for women.

Twitter backlash on Tuesday said the attitude towards women had to change in the country.

“For this locker room story that got out, there must be thousands more around … dangerous masculinity and sexism will still exist,” wrote Twitter user @justyashgoyal.

“Objectification of women must stop and it can only be done by educating youth,” wrote another Twitter user @tripathiharsh02.

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