An Instagram account where members posted images of underage girls and made inappropriate comments about them is under public scrutiny in India.
A group of young schoolboys in Delhi purportedly started the private Instagram group called "Bois Locker Room," to share photos of their female classmates without their knowledge or consent, according to the BBC. The photos were paired with comments that body shamed the girls or made jokes about sexual assault and rape. Images from the group started circulating on social media on Sunday, sparking outrage and orders for the members’ arrest from the public.
The group members’ names and Instagram handles became public on social media and Indian police have since taken a 15-year-old boy into custody.
The Delhi Women's Commission (DCW) requested an investigation into the group and requested more information about the members of the group from Instagram. Instagram has yet to comment, according to the BBC. A school also filed a criminal complaint about the case, local media reported.
The validity of screenshots taken of the account is in question. Many of the screenshots look edited, Shubham Singh, a cyber expert who helped investigate the group, told the BBC. The account posted a mix of images from other social media platforms like Snapchat, Singh added. Singh traced the group members and submitted their information to the police, who then took one teenage boy into custody. More members are likely going to be taken into custody, police said.
"These were the same people who were making plans to gang rape girls and were making objectionable comments about them," DCW Chief Swati Maliwal told Tribune India on Tuesday about the additional members being investigated. "Such persons, irrespective of where they are and whether the lockdown is in place or not, should not be spared."
Amid global lockdowns set in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, the International Commission of Cyber Security Law has noticed a large uptick in the number of children accessing pornography and "dark web" sites, according to the BBC.
As internet access has increased in India over the past decade, so have sexual abuse cases.
Sexual violence is extremely prevalent in India and high-profile cases of abuse in Delhi have caused collective calls for justice in recent years. An Indian government survey found 42% of girls in the country had been sexually abused. And about 40% of girls believe they’ll be shamed or dismissed if they report an assault to authorities.
Thread: Students who are 16, 17 years old, are casually talking of gang raping girls and women, swapping nudes without the consent of these women on Reddit, with not even a hint of fear of exposure. The dire crisis of rape womxn face, starts with this rape culture #boyslockerroom— #MeTooIndia (@IndiaMeToo) May 4, 2020
While India has strict regulations and rules to prohibit the distribution of exploitative materials online, stronger enforcement is required, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which issues an annual global index on child sexual abuse and exploitation.
To stop further child sexual violence and exploitation, the EIU recommends engaging government agencies, the private sector (with an emphasis on information and communication technology companies), and civil society to protect children around the world.