The recent ‘bois locker room’ incident on Instagram has triggered a nationwide outrage with many mulling a constructive approach to address the matter.
While some are calling for creating safe channels to have conversations around rape culture, others are also stressing on introducing modules in schools which talk about consent, the male gaze and more. To that end, a lot of students from schools and colleges across India have written an open letter to their respective authorities to look into the incident and take urgent steps to prevent such incidents from happening in future.
In the letter, with more than 300 signatories from organisations such as Mardaangi, which works with male victims of sexual assault, and educational institutions in Delhi and other parts of the country, students and former students have urged the authorities to regularly conduct workshops on sex education in school, support the victims without vilifying the perpetrators and to develop frameworks to normalise consensual behaviour among teenagers.
View this post on Instagram
We are horrified by recent events that have brought to the forefront issues of consent, respect, and over sexualisation of minors. This is a systematic problem that can only be fought through structural change. We want to do our part in trying to solve this problem and need your support. Share and amplify this post as much as possible. This is just the first step. Link in bio!
The signatories have also appealed to the government to start local and state level policy discussions on the issue and come up with sustainable and inclusive solutions which takes into account the myriad social settings of the country.
“These solutions should consist of education, awareness, accountability as well as consequence. We need to ensure that the misogynistic cultures these institutions strive on are broken down and these institutions become a safe space for everyone within them. While forming these policies and building this framework, we want factors like caste, class and sexual orientation to be kept in mind to ensure inclusivity,’ said the letter.
The letter also provides links to mental health support for students seeking help and emphasises on creating safe environment in schools.
“Ideas of consent, respect, sensitisation etc. need to translate into behavioural changes. There needs to be constant reaffirmation and normalisation of consensual and appropriate behaviour within institutions. It should also be remembered that every institution works under a different context and thus a blanket solution would not work,” the letter adds.
Social and emotional learning
In the same light, student bodies in three schools – Sanskriti School (Delhi), the Shri Ram School (Aravali) and Delhi Public School (Rohini) – have also written an open letter proposing to incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) sessions in schools for students to understand the nuances of sexual health, identity, laws and safety.
According to the letter, implementation of SEL will have the following benefits for students:
- Terms such as consent, bystander and harassment are still blurry concepts for a majority of the student body.
- Students have not received formal training on how to identify harassment, stand up against it, and the legal resources to utilise in such situations.
Here are some methods which can be incorporated with SEL as per the students:
- Videos that address toxic masculinity, rape, and harassment can be shown in sessions to help students gain primary sexual education
- Guest speakers can be invited to address the student body on topics like rape culture, victim shaming etc.
- Teachers must undergo training by accredited programs on how to identify and address sexual assault and harassment.
- Parents can be sensitised through workshops that encourage them to engage in dialogue with their children regarding these issues.
“This letter comes with an acute sense of urgency. We request the school authorities to take adequate measures as proposed above,” says the letter.
Featured image credit: (Representative image) Oussama Zaidi/Unsplash