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Muslim Women Targeted Through 'Auction' Site Once Again with 'Bulli Bai' Platform

11:32 02 January 2022 Author :  

Alost identical to the 'Sulli Deals' app which sparked outrage last year, the new platform also uses manipulated images of Muslim women without their consent to treat them as chattel and harass them online.

New Delhi: For the second time in the space of less than a year, internet trolls have taken to posting degrading, doctored images of Muslim women on the internet, this time through a platform called ‘Bulli Bai’, heavily inspired by the ‘Sulli Deals’ app which sparked a row in July last year.

The online portal ‘bullibai.github.io’, sharing an almost identical interface with the Sulli Deals app, stages an ‘auction’ for Muslim women (using the derogatory term ‘bulli’) with the sole intent of disrespecting these women, using manipulated images of them without their consent.

Several women reported that their images had been used on this platform, including The Wire’s Ismat Ara who posted a screenshot of her being called the ‘Bulli Bai of the Day’ on the website.

Ara has filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime Cell of the Delhi Police seeking the registration of an FIR under IPC Sections 153A (Promoting enmity between groups on the grounds of religion), 153B (imputations prejudicial to national integration), 354A (sexual harassment), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (words, sounds or gestures intending to insult the modesty of women), to be read with Sections 66 (sending grossly insensitive information through a computer resource) and 67 (sending lascivious or lewd matter) of the Information Technology (IT) Act.

In her complaint, Ara also noted that the phrase ‘Bulli of the Day’ “objectifies and degrades women” and requested the police to investigate a conspiracy regarding the platform.

“Social media being a form of public expression cannot be used to demean and derogate women in general and Muslim women in particular by misogynist sections of society,” Ara’s complaint further read. “It is indeed disappointing to see the impunity with which such hate mongers continue to target Muslim women, without fear of any sanction whatsoever.”

Several other Muslim women who are vocal on social media and elsewhere found their photos on the app. The mother of disappeared JNU student Najeeb too was on the list.

A day after Ara’s complaint, the Delhi police noted that an FIR had been registered under IPC Section 509 at the cyber police station of Southeast Delhi, the Indian Express reported. The report also mentioned that sources within the cyber cell said that certain internet users associated with posting the derogatory content had been identified, though these accounts were deactivated following the police complaints.

At the same time, the cyber crime division of the Mumbai police told news agency PTI that it had begun an investigation into the platform, which has since been deleted.

Ara also named Microsoft-owned content sharing platform GitHub in her complaint, where the Bulli Deals domain was hosted. On Saturday, IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted saying that GitHub had blocked the user responsible for hosting the site.

In case of the Sulli Deals app, two FIRs had been registered by the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police, however, no significant action has been taken against those responsible till date, NDTV reported.

Several political leaders too have spoken out against the violation and asked for urgent action to be taken.

“It is unacceptable that this project of dangerous anti-Muslim misogyny is back. Appalling indictment of the state of affairs, that not only was nothing done last time, but these forces also felt emboldened to repeat the whole thing because the establishment backs them,” Congress MP Karti Chidambaram tweeted.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said that GitHub removing the app is not enough, and the perpetrators must be punished. /The Wire

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