Bulli Bai app blocked but will it stop attempts to harm modesty of Muslim women

Bulli Bai, an app to sell Muslim women with a tagline ‘deals of the day’ is blocked, but without proper investigations and arrests. Indian women can’t sleep in peace!

Amidst the highly-polarised political climate of India, it is demeaning and extremely harmful for our society to witness another app, trying to sell Muslim women within six months after the first incident was reported.

Bulli Bai, an app that tried selling hundreds of Muslim women by using their doctored photos, was blocked after it was brought to the notice of the IT Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, by Shiv Sena MP, Priyanka Chaturvedi.

It is the second time Indian Muslim women have faced such derogatory action and callout. In July, an app called ‘Sulli Deals’ used the same method to harass Muslim women by auctioning them online. It is hard to say that such things will end in India as the administration and the police did not take stringent actions and convicted the culprits around six months ago.

Pure intention of harassing Muslim women

The term Sulli is considered a derogatory Hindi-abusive word to troll Muslim women. The word ‘Bulli’ is also a spin-off with similar meaning.

Though these apps were meant for auctioning off Muslim women, not a single deal took place. The main intention of the app creators was assumed – harassment and embarrassing Muslim women by uploading the doctored version of their pictures, available online.

Fierce Indian Muslim female voices like those of journalists, celebrated women activists, an award-winning Bollywood actress was featured in the app with a caption reading ‘deals of the day’. Even a mother of a missing college student was not spared.

It just took half a year to resurface

The Bulli Bai controversy resurfaced within just six months of the Sulli Deals in July 2021. The Indian administration had then assured closure of the app as a protective and preventive measure against such cyber intimidation. Not a single accused was arrested in the Sulli Deals case to date.

Nabiya Khan, a Twitter user, questioned the action taken by the Delhi Police based on her complaint, registered on July 12. “I am still waiting for it. It’s been 5 months already. What action will you take this time,” she wrote.

Radio Jockey, Sayema said, “Had the police, the govt taken action against them last year, a punitive action, we wouldn’t have to go through this humiliation.” She was one of the victims in the obnoxious Bulli Bai deals.

Journalist Ismat Ara has filed a complaint over the weekend to the Delhi Police after her name and photo appeared in the app. The complaint lodged against unidentified people and charges had included sexual harassment and promoting enmity on the grounds of religion.

The Mumbai Police also filed a second case against several Twitter handles and the app developers based on a complaint from another victim. Most of these victims were traumatized and horrified.

Asra told Al Jazeera that the lack of progress and spontaneity in the investigation didn’t inspire much confidence. “It is indeed disappointing to see the impunity with which such hate-mongers continue to target Muslim women, without fear of any sanction whatsoever,” she wrote in her complaint.

One of the prominent lawmakers, Priyanka Chaturvedi, tweeted in response, “Besides blocking the platform, punishing the offenders creating such sites is important.” She also said in one of her interviews that the Bulli Bai app was created as perpetrators of the Sulli Deals were not convicted.

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