Online sexual attack against Muslim women: Open letter to CJI

News Network
January 6, 2022

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Request for a Suo motu petition in regard to the unconstitutional, illegal and misogynistic targeting of Muslim women through the SulliDeals and BulliBai Apps.

On the 1st of January, 2022, as the world was sending out celebratory messages to mark the New Year, hundreds of Muslim women woke up to deeply objectionable, obnoxious and misogynistic attack on them via the ‘Bulli Bai App’. Photos of hundreds of Muslim women, including prominent journalists, activists and thinkers, were secured and uploaded without their permission on this app and were subsequently ‘auctioned’.

The Bulli App was hosted at the URL bullibai.github.io. GitHub is platform which hosts websites, with a repository of open-source codes. After much furore, the platform was finally taken down on the morning of 01.01.2022 and the Twitter handle of the Bulli Bai has been suspended. Like ‘Sulli Deals’ the ‘Bulli Bai’ app was also created and used on GitHub. The GitHub platform allows users to create and share apps. While the portal is no longer functional, the offenders continue to walk around scot-free leaving the survivors struggling with their personal identities revealed to millions of social media users who want to buy and sell their bodies. This has rendered them vulnerable in both social media spaces and real world.

This is not the first when such an outrageous public sale of Muslim women’s bodies has taken place openly. In the month of July 2021, a similar App called Sulli Deals app offered photographs of Muslim women as ‘deals.’ for virtual auctions. The perpetrators even had no fear of legal consequences as they publicy declared their intention to launch an application that facilitates the sale of Muslim women. While the very action of downloading and posting pictures and private details of Muslim women, in both instances, was not only non-consensual and in violation of the right to privacy, it was clearly meant to degrade, dehumanize, vilify and demean Muslim women. ‘Auctioning’ women in this manner is a depraved attempt to commodify them and strip them of any personhood or dignity. This is a blatant violation of the very fundamental right to live with dignity and the right to bodily autonomy protected under Article 21 of our Constitution.

However, it is imperative for us to also recognise these repeated attacks on the dignity of Muslim women as a well thought out political strategy by majoritarian forces to systematically isolate Muslims for public harassment and humiliation, and intimidate them into silence. Terms such as ‘Sulli’ and ‘Bulli’ are offensive and derogatory slurs used to specifically insult and denigrate women belonging to the Muslim community and thereby, constitutes hate speech. The public auction of Muslim women is an extreme form of vilification of Muslims reducing them to non-citizens and sub-humans. This only points to the utter moral bankruptcy in our society where communal elements openly target, bully and perpetuate sexual violence against women with alarming impunity. Read along with the public calls for genocide on the streets of Delhi earlier last year, and at the Dharam Sansad in Haridwar more recently, it is evident that instances such as these are carefully strategized hate crimes pushing our country into a dark abyss to which there can be no turning a blind eye to anymore.

Apps such as ‘Sulli deals’ and ‘Bulli Bai’, similarly, perpetuate violence against Muslim women. These apps use pictures and social media accounts of women based on ‘visible indicators’ that establish that they are Muslim, such as their names, usernames, posts, and so on. This is a direct manifestation of the prevalent objectification of Muslim women. These actions, in addition to leading to a severe assault on the dignity of Muslim women, has affected their public participation as well. Many Muslim women were forced to undertake actions such as deleting their pictures and many had to even delete their social media profiles. This has severely limited the participation of Muslim women in online public spaces. State inaction which has allowed this, constitutes a violation of the preambular promise to Equality of Opportunity. Muslims are systematically being denied the opportunity to participate wholly and freely in public life.

Following the attacks against Muslim women on the Sulli Deals App in July, 2021, two FIRs were filed by the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police. Both the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the National Commission for Women (NCW) took cognizance of the matter and assured action. Worryingly, nearly six months after the incident was first reported, investigations have made little progress and investigative agencies have not even able to identify the perpetrators of the crime.(1) The callous attitude of the state machinery in addressing the issue has made a complete mockery of the suffering and trauma of the targeted women. As an extension, the deafening silence of the law enforcement agencies in countering repeated communal onslaughts on Muslim women cannot but be seen as an implicit endorsement of such depravity.

The Constitution of India promises every citizen equality and a life of dignity. Nonetheless, routine communal and misogynistic aggressions such as these deprive Muslim women of the most fundamental rights. They compel marginalised women to live in fear and terror in their own country. No civilised society should meekly allow for the targeted harassment, objectification and public auctioning of its women. Given the colossal failure of the state machinery in adequately responding to such instances of hate crimes in the country, the onus now falls upon the Supreme Court to urgently intervene to safeguard the constitutional rights of minority communities and restore public faith in constitutional systems.

Such despicable assaults on the dignity of Muslim women are also calculated attacks on the very idea of India as envisaged by the Indian Constitution. They are carried out with the specific intent of ‘othering’ all marginalised communities and breaking our cherished secular fabric. These actions, solely based on religious hatred, militate against the Constitutional notions of fraternity and violate the right to equality, the right against discrimination, the right to personal liberty, right to religious freedom and the right to life. While our constitution strives for a safe environment for people irrespective of their gender and religion, such acts of violence continue to promote discrimination and public disharmony.

We, therefore, demand that the Supreme Court register a Suo motu petition and ensure that:

(i) The police register FIRs Suo moto and on the basis of complaints, investigate the offence expeditiously and take necessary steps against the perpetrators.

(ii) Monitor the investigation and prosecution in regard to these offences. (edited on 4th Jan)

(iii) Investigation and prosecution in regard to the FIRs registered in July, 2021 also be monitored by the Supreme Court and necessary action be taken if it is found that the police have failed to discharge their duties.

(iv) Direct the concerned authorities to ensure that the GitHub and Twitter platforms are not used for such blatantly illegal activities as Sulli deals and Bulli Bai apps.

(v) Direct payment of suitable compensation to the victims of these communal hate crimes.

(vi) Direct that appropriate steps be taken to ensure the prevention of recurrence of any such communal hate crime.

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News Network
May 12,2022

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Colombo, May 12: Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka's prime minister for the sixth time on Thursday, though the veteran politician has never completed a full term in office.

The 73-year-old's political career appeared to be drawing to a close before this week, when he agreed to helm a unity administration and help steer the South Asian island nation through a crippling economic crisis.

"This is a historic event," Tamil legislator Dharmalingam Sithadthan told AFP in reference to Wickremesinghe's latest return to the top office.

"This shows the desperate situation in our country."

Wickremesinghe is the sole parliamentary representative of the United National Party, a once-powerful political force that was nearly wiped out in Sri Lanka's last elections.

The former lawyer hails from a political family and his uncle Junius Jayewardene served as president for more than a decade.

But Wickremesinghe once told AFP he would have likely pursued a career as a journalist, had the government of the day not nationalised his family's newspaper business in 1973.

He was first appointed premier in 1993 after the assassination of then-president Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was killed in a bomb attack by Tamil Tiger guerrillas during Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war.

Underscoring the dynastic nature of Sri Lanka's politics, Premadasa's son Sajith is the current opposition leader and had also been touted as a possible prime ministerial candidate this week.

Wickremesinghe's first term in office lasted little more than a year.

He returned to power in 2001, earning a reputation for sound economic management after steering the country out of recession.

Conflict with the president saw him sacked before his term was over, and he spent the next decade in the political wilderness.

Wickremasinghe lost two presidential contests and led his party to a string of election defeats, prompting even his own supporters to dub him a "record loser".

He was nonetheless sworn in as prime minister again in 2015 after the election defeat of president Mahinda Rajapaksa after the opposition rallied behind him as a unity candidate against the authoritarian leader.

His "Mr Clean" image was muddied later that year when his administration was rocked by an insider trading scam involving central bank bonds.

A key accused in the multi-million dollar scam was the central bank chief at the time, Arjuna Mahendran, who was Wickremesinghe's schoolmate and choice for the job.

He was accused of cronyism during his tenure and failing to prosecute members of the previous Rajapaksa regime, members of which had been accused of graft, kickbacks and siphoning off public finances.

Political conflict with the powerful Rajapaksa family also threw the country into crisis in 2018, with Mahinda taking over the premiership for six weeks before the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional.

Wickremesinghe returns to office to replace Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned on Monday after his supporters attacked anti-government demonstrators, and later had to be rescued from his residence by the military.

He will serve at the pleasure of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mahinda's younger brother, who has fought off calls for his own resignation over the government's mismanagement of the economic crisis.

Wickremesinghe will be taking charge of a bankrupt nation in default of its $51-billion foreign debt and without money to import essential goods.

His status as a pro-West, free-market reformist could smooth bailout negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and foreign creditors.

But he has already warned there will be no quick fix to the nation's unprecedented economic woes.

"The worst is yet to come. We have very high inflation now and hyperinflation is on its way," Wickremesinghe told parliament last week.

"We should start addressing the issues now, we can't put it off any longer," he added. 

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News Network
May 14,2022

In response to the cold-blooded killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli regime forces, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has called for a unified command against the occupying regime.

In his remarks late on Friday, Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Gaza-based resistance movement's political bureau, urged the “speedy formation” of the command to lead the struggle against Israel.

The call came two days after 51-year-old Abu Akleh was brutally murdered while covering an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

The long-time Al Jazeera Arabic journalist, who shot to fame while covering the second Palestinian Intifada between 2000 and 2005, was accompanying a group of local journalists when she was targeted.

Haniyeh said the Palestinian liberation struggle is going through a "new stage," which demands the adoption of "incisive and strategic decisions".

He said the unified command will be tasked with directing the resistance against the apartheid regime.

Formation of the unified front is indispensable in the light of the regime's "bestiality," which manifested itself in the "assassination of the daughter of Palestine," Haniyeh said, referring to Abu Akleh.

The Hamas leader said Palestinians need to get their act together in the face of Tel Aviv's unbridled aggression, advocating unity between different Palestinian political groups.

He cited examples of Israeli aggression such as the increase in settlement construction activities across the occupied territories, assaulting Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the holy occupied city of al-Quds, the longstanding and crippling siege of Gaza, detention of thousands of Palestinians, and denying them the right to return to their homeland.

Haniyeh called on the West Bank-headquartered Palestinian Authority (PA) to end its cooperation with the regime in Tel Aviv and scrap the so-called Oslo Accords, which were signed in 1993 and marked the first time the Israeli regime and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized each other.

The Oslo Accords were signed in the White House but named after Norway’s capital city, where the secret back-channel dialogue took place.

The Hamas leader urged the PA to withdraw its "recognition of Israel," stop its "security cooperation" with Tel Aviv, "and concentrate on the resistance's comprehensive plan for confronting the occupier."

Pertinently, it came on the eve of Nakba Day, (the Day of Catastrophe), when in 1948 hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homeland and Israel came into existence as an illegal and illegitimate entity.

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News Network
May 9,2022

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Bengaluru, May 9: The Hanuman Chalisa campaign against Azaan today reverberated across Karnataka as activists of Sri Ram Sene in Belagavi began chanting Hanuman Chalisa at 5 am from temples. 

According to the police, the incidents were reported in places including Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya, Belgaum, Dharwad and Kalaburagi. Some of the Sri Ram Sene activists were briefly detained by cops. 

Muthalik, who was in Mysuru, played the Hanuman Chalisa and other devotional hymns at a temple. “It is not a symbolic protest or just for a day. This will continue till the government initiates action against loudspeakers installed at mosques,” he said.

“We have launched the campaign against the state government and members of the Muslim community who are not following the Supreme Court order. In future, we will file a contempt case against all deputy commissioners for failing to implement the Supreme Court’s order,” Muthalik told media persons.

Along the lines of a similar call by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, Muthalik had on Sunday exhorted Sene activists to play Hanuman Chalisa and Suprabhata hymn from loudspeakers across temples in Karnataka from Monday if the BJP-led state government failed to act against loudspeakers installed in mosques.

Muthalik claimed several right-wing organisations have extended support to Sri Rama Sene. According to him, the organisation has contacted more than 1,000 temples across the state already.

Comments

HANEEF HASSAN
 - 
Monday, 9 May 2022

Let them play what they need we have benefits only let them play every five times prayer

Farooq Portfolio
 - 
Monday, 9 May 2022

Why do news channels give so much publicity for this? These people don't believe in God. They are just destroying peace and harmony in society.

Will they continue do chant Hunman chalisa or do other pooja 5 times to counter azan, offer special prayer once a week and fasting during Ramadan etc?

Azaan started over 1400 years ago and since the invention of microphone it is being used for azaan. Azaan will continue till the end of this world.

Our faith in Almighty is very strong and we are always praying every day for our country's betterment. May Almighty protect citizens of India from evil forces

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