What is Bulli Bai: The new year began with harassment of Muslim women on the internet, with an app by the name ‘Bulli Bai’ putting several prominent names up for ‘auction.’ Hosted by open-source software GitHub, the app in question was blocked after women across social media expressed outrage and moved to action against the cyber targeting.
As per reports, police in Delhi and Mumbai have initiated a probe into the matter after First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered. The Minister of Electronics & Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, took cognisance of the case on January 1 and tweeted that the government was “working with police organisations in Delhi and Mumbai on this matter.”
Among the many women named on the now-blocked controversial app are journalists, authors, media personalities and activists. The Wire journalist Ismat Ara, who approached the Delhi police to file a complaint, was among the first notable women to flag the issue of ‘Bulli Bai’ on social media. More on the case.
Suggested Reading: Sulli Deals Harassment: The Double Jeopardy Of Being A Muslim Woman Online
Bulli Bai App: Sulli Deals 2.0?
This is not the first time such targeted bullying of women from India’s minority community has surfaced. Last year between May and July, such ‘auctions’ of Muslim women under the tag ‘Sulli Deals’ prominently occurred twice without any solid police action.
Speaking to SheThePeople about being cyber harassed in the ‘Sulli Deals’ case, social media user Sania Ahmad said, “Ever since I joined Twitter, I have constantly faced abuse… ‘Sulli’ is a common derogatory term used for Muslim women and also a way to evade social media platforms’ community guidelines.” Read here.
A YouTube account titled ‘Liberal Doge’ was at the eye of the storm the last time around; a repeat offender identified for targeting Muslim women online, the now-removed account was being run by one Ritesh Jha and livestreamed an ‘auction’ of Muslim women on the occasion of Eid. No police action was taken against Jha, as per reports.
Weeks after the first controversy, the ‘Sulli Deals’ app surfaced on GitHub for ‘auction’ of Muslim women yet again, with unsolicited use of their pictures and identities. An FIR was filed against the creators of the app but there was no concrete update on the kind of action taken in the case.
‘Bulli’ appears to be a variation of the derogatory term used previously and its associated app was functional with an interface similar to ‘Sulli Deals.’ Using a picture of the woman named, the app presents them as the ‘Bulli Bai of the day.’
Reports suggest the identities of approximately 100 women have been linked to the recent controversy. The removal of the app, however, has not prevented screenshots of its content, featuring the women survivors’ photos, from being circulated on other social media platforms.