New Delhi: Almost 4,500 people from across the country – including lawyers, women’s rights activists and others – signed an open letter to India’s Chief Justice NV Ramana, asking him to register a petition suo moto on targeting Muslim women via apps like ‘Sulli Deals’ and ‘Bulli Bai’.
These apps used photos of Muslim women with their permission, some of them were transformed, and put them up for auction.
“While the very act of uploading and posting photos and private details of Muslim women, in both cases, was not only non-consensual and in violation of the right to privacy, it was clearly intended to degrade, dehumanize, vilify and demean Muslim women. . “Auctioning” women in this way is a depraved attempt to commodify them and strip them of any personality or dignity. This is a flagrant violation of the very fundamental right to live with dignity and the right to bodily autonomy protected by article 21 of our Constitution, ”the letter said.
“The public auction of Muslim women is an extreme form of defamation of Muslim women, reducing them to non-citizens and subhumans. This only underscores the total moral bankruptcy of our society where community elements openly target, intimidate and perpetuate sexual violence against women with alarming impunity. From reading the public calls for genocide in the streets of Delhi early last year, and at Dharam Sansad in Haridwar more recently, it is evident that such cases are carefully crafted hate crimes pushing our country into a dark abyss. to which he can no longer close his eyes, ”he continues.
Given the violation of the rights and constitutional principles involved, argues the letter, the Supreme Court should step in to oversee police investigations, ensure victims are compensated and prevent such community hate crimes in the future.
The full list of signatories is available online, as uploaded by one of the co-signers.
Read the full text of the letter below.
Honorable Judge Shri NV Ramana,
Chief Justice of India
New Delhi – 110001
Subject: Request to register a Suo motu petition regarding the unconstitutional, illegal and misogynistic targeting of Muslim women via the SulliDeals and BulliBai apps.
On January 1, 2022, as the world sent celebratory messages to mark the New Year, hundreds of Muslim women woke up to a deeply reprehensible, heinous and misogynistic attack via the “Bulli Bai App”. Photos of hundreds of Muslim women, including leading journalists, activists and thinkers, have been secured and uploaded without their permission to this app and then “auctioned off”.
The Bulli application has been hosted at the URL. GitHub is a platform that hosts websites, with an open source code repository. After much fury, the platform was finally taken down on the morning of 01.01.2022 and Bulli Bai’s Twitter account was suspended. Like ‘Sulli Deals’, the ‘Bulli Bai’ app was also created and used on GitHub. The GitHub platform allows users to build and share apps. While the portal is no longer functional, offenders continue to walk around without scot, leaving survivors to grapple with their personal identities revealed to millions of social media users who wish to buy and sell their bodies. This has made them vulnerable both in social media spaces and in the real world. The creators of these apps can be almost impossible to trace given the availability of sophisticated tools to ensure their anonymity. This creates obstacles for the victims of such attacks to report such incidents and also to ensure accountability for such incidents of targeted online harassment.
This is not the first time that such an outrageous public sale of Muslim female bodies has been held openly. As of July 2021, a similar app called Sulli Deals offered photos of Muslim women as “deals.” for virtual auctions. The perpetrators weren’t even afraid of legal consequences as they publicly declared their intention to launch an app that facilitates the sale of Muslim women. While the very act of uploading and posting photos and private details of Muslim women, in both cases, was not only non-consensual and in violation of the right to privacy, it was clearly aimed at degrading, dehumanizing , vilify and demean Muslim women. “Auctioning” women in this way is a depraved attempt to commodify them and strip them of any personality or dignity. This is a flagrant violation of the very fundamental right to live with dignity and the right to bodily autonomy protected by article 21 of our Constitution.
However, it is imperative that we also recognize these repeated attacks on the dignity of Muslim women as a well-thought-out political strategy of the majority forces to systematically isolate Muslims for public harassment and humiliation, and intimidate them to 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 thus constitute hate speech. The public auction of Muslim women is an extreme form of defamation of Muslim women, reducing them to non-citizens and sub-humans. This only underscores the total moral bankruptcy of our society where community elements openly target, intimidate and perpetuate sexual violence against women with alarming impunity. From reading the public calls for genocide in the streets of Delhi early last year, and at Dharam Sansad in Haridwar more recently, it is evident that such cases are carefully crafted hate crimes pushing our country into a dark abyss. to which he can no longer close his eyes.
Apps such as “Sulli deals” and “Bulli Bai” similarly perpetuate violence against Muslim women. These apps use images and social media accounts of women based on “visible indicators” that establish that they are Muslim, such as their names, usernames, posts, etc. It is a direct manifestation of the widespread objectification of Muslim women. These actions, in addition to leading to a serious attack on the dignity of Muslim women, also affected their public participation. Many Muslim women were forced to take actions such as deleting their photos and many even had to delete their social media profiles. This severely limited the participation of Muslim women in online public spaces. The state’s inaction which allowed this constitutes a violation of the preamble’s promise to equal opportunities. Muslims are systematically denied the opportunity to participate fully and freely in public life.
Following the attacks on Muslim women on the Sulli Deals app in July 2021, two FIRs were dropped by police in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the National Commission for Women (NCW) have taken note of the matter and have taken action. Disturbingly, nearly six months after the incident was first reported, little progress has been made with investigations and investigative agencies have not even been able to identify the perpetrators of the crime. The insensitive attitude of the state apparatus to the issue has completely ridiculed the suffering and trauma of the women targeted. As a follow-up, the deafening silence of law enforcement agencies in the fight against repeated community attacks on Muslim women can only be seen as an implicit endorsement of such depravity.
The Constitution of India promises every citizen equality and a life of dignity. Nonetheless, common communal and misogynistic attacks like these deprive Muslim women of most basic rights. They force marginalized women to live in fear and terror in their own country. No civilized society should obediently allow the targeted harassment, objectification and public auctioning of its women. Given the colossal failure of the state apparatus to respond adequately to such cases of hate crimes in the country, it is now incumbent on the Supreme Court to intervene urgently to protect the constitutional rights of minority communities and restore public confidence in constitutional systems.
Such vile attacks on the dignity of Muslim women are also calculated attacks on the very idea of India as envisioned by the Indian Constitution. They are carried out with the specific intention of “altering” all marginalized communities and breaking our dear secular fabric. These actions, based solely on religious hatred, militate against constitutional notions of brotherhood and violate the right to equality, the right against discrimination, the right to personal liberty, the right to religious liberty and the right to freedom. life. While our constitution strives to create a safe environment for people, regardless of gender and religion, such acts of violence continue to promote discrimination and public discord.
Therefore, we ask the Supreme Court to register a Suo motu petition and ensure that:
- The police register the FIR Suo moto and, based on the complaints, promptly investigate the offense and take appropriate action against the perpetrators.
- Monitor the investigation and prosecution of these offenses.
- Investigation and prosecution of FIRs registered in July 2021 will also be overseen by the Supreme Court and necessary action will be taken if it is found that the police have not performed their duties.
- Ask the relevant authorities to ensure that the GitHub and Twitter platforms are not used for clearly illegal activities such as Sulli transactions and Bulli Bai applications.
- Direct payment of appropriate compensation to victims of these community hate crimes.
- Order that appropriate measures be taken to ensure the prevention of the recurrence of such a community hate crime.