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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coastaldigest.com news network
June 23,2022

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Mangaluru, June 21: In a coldblooded filicide, a 45-year-old man pushed his wife and three children into a well and jumped into it today at Hosakavery near Kinnigoli on the outskirts of the city.

Local flower vendor Muhammad Nasir, who heard the screams of the family from the well, immediately entered the well and tried to rescue the children and their parents.

Meanwhile, more number of locals and fire fighters reached the spot and joined the rescue operation.

While the parents survived, the children breathed their last without responding to emergency treatment in the hospital. 

The deceased are Rashmitha (13), a Class 8 student, Uday (11), a Class 6 student and Dakshith (4), who was an Anganwadi student. 

Their mother Laxmi (38) and the accused father Hithesh shettigar are survivors. 

The accused was working in the canteen of MRPL in the past. Recently he had quit the job and started a small-time business after borrowing loan from a bank. He was reportedly facing financial crisis. 

The jurisdictional Mulki police arrested the accused and booked a case of murder against him. 

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News Network
June 30,2022

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Mangaluru, June 30: Following heavy rains and floods in Dakshina Kannada, Deputy Commissioner K V Rajendra has declared a holiday for all educational institutions across the district tomorrow (July 1).

The DC had earlier declared for schools in Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) limits today (June 30). However, students who had already reached schools had to stay in classrooms due to increased rains.

Due to heavy rains, many low-lying areas like Kottara Chowki have been inundated with rainwater. Traffic flow was choked at many places including Mahaveer (pump well circle)with water flooding the roads.

The stretch near Kalladka, where the road was dug up to build a flyover, was sealed off for traffic. The stretch was inundated with rainwater.

Overflowing storm water drains had flooded residential colonies in Malemar, Ballalbagh and surrounding areas. Social media was flooded with messages warning commuters on avoiding flooded streets and areas.

The India Meteorological Department declared an orange alert in the district on July 1. Hence, the DC has declared a holiday for the educational institutions.

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News Network
June 25,2022

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Mumbai, June 25: Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray chaired a national executive meeting in Mumbai on Saturday, as the drama in his party unveiled into a full-blown political crisis, threatening to bring the MVA leadership down in the state. 

During the meeting, Thackeray made a scathing attack on rebel leader Eknath Shinde, who is at the centre of the crisis in the state. He said, "Himmat hai toh khud ke baap ke naam par vote maange, balasaheb ke nahi" - (If you dare to, ask votes on your father's name, not Balasaheb's). 

"Some people are asking me to say something but I've already said that they(rebel MLAs) can do whatever they want to do, I won't interfere in their matters. They can take their own decision, but no one should use Balasaheb Thackeray's name," the CM had said.

The party's national executive is expected to authorise Thackeray to make decisions regarding the organisation in view of the rebellion by Shinde. Along with Shinde, another disgruntled party leader and former minister Ramdas Kadam are expected to face action. Both of them are members of the national executive. Kadam's son MLA Yogesh Kadam has joined the rebel camp in Guwahati.

Earlier on Friday, Thackeray convened a meeting of the district chiefs virtually wherein he said that the rebel MLAs who are camping in Guwahati want to "break the party". Targetting Shinde, Thackeray said that he did everything for the rebel leader and yet a lot of allegations are levelled against him.

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