The controversial Bulli Bai app has been blocked by the hosting platform GitHub following complaints of objectionable content.The portal was reportedly launched on Saturday January 1 and contained several pictures of Muslim women, including journalists, social workers, students and famous personalities. Indian Muslim women found their pictures on an app where they were being auctioned off to app users. The Bulli Bhai app worked just as the Sulli Deals app did. The app randomly selected a picture and then when you clicked on the app it gave the user their own ‘Sulli’ of the day. A Sulli is an extremely derogatory term used by Hindu nationalists to describe Muslim women.
Sania Ahmed a journalist and an activist as well as a victim of bullying on the Bulli Bai app and the ‘Sulli deals’ app spoke to Radio Islam. “This app had been established to target women and it outraged Muslim woman as it dehumanized Muslim women and broke their honor in the worst possible way”, says Ahmed, “It reduced women to pieces of meat’.
They had filed two FIRs against the Sulli Deals app, but no concrete action was taken against perpetrators. Despite the massive outrage and the immense public support, the investigation did not allow for any change or affect to the app itself.
The Bulli Bai app saw three arrests being made. The suspects were two 21-year-old men and an 18-year-old woman. All three suspects were from affluent backgrounds and were highly educated individuals and were university students.
Warning other women that no change will occur, Sani Ahmed says that previously on twitter – people had been graphically discussing how they would chop of her head and issued graphic rape threats as well as death threats. Many other Muslim women were added to this list. The idea was to not only dehumanize Muslim women but at the same time to cause a rift between Muslims and Sikhs. Sikhs were also being heavily targeted as the other minority in India.
In both cases no real sale took place – but the purpose was to degrade and humiliate Muslim women with a deeper goal of controlling the entire Muslim community.
A 2018 Amnesty International’s report on online harassment in India showed that the more vocal a woman was, the more likely she was to be targeted – the scale of this increased for women from religious minorities and disadvantaged castes. Trolling against women has risen in recent years due to the highly polarized political climate.