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Bulli Bai: Why Such Apps Should Be Considered As A Warning Sign

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Trigger warning: sexual and communal violence

On January 1, 2022, an app named “Bulli Bai” was uncovered on the software developer GitHub. The app contained 112 morphed images of mainly Muslim women and a few Hindu women too. These are women who are vocal regarding the political environment of India.

The women, presented as sexual slaves, were auctioned via their images, allowing users of the app to choose their bulli (deal) of the day. This app is being seen as a clone of the 2021 app “Sulli Deals”, that had a similar layout and purpose.

Khalida Parveen is a social activist from Hyderabad.
Khalida Parveen is a social activist from Hyderabad. Her name and photo was found on the derogatory Bulli Bai app. Photo credit: The Quint.

No police action was taken against the app developers, except for a case being registered against them.

The suspects identified and caught by the Mumbai Police as of January 4, 2021, are young people. They include Vishal Jha (21), Shweta Singh (19), and Mayank Rawal (21).

What About The Accused Who Have Been Nabbed?

On January 3, 2021, Jha who handled the technical aspects of the app, was arrested from Dayanand College of Engineering, in Bengaluru. Singh, an Uttarakhand resident, was reportedly arrested from Uddham Singh Nagar in the state.

Jha had a Twitter account by the name of “Khalsa Supremacy” and other handles with Sikh names. Singh also had a Twitter account by the name of “Jatt Khalsa 07”.

These twitter accounts have visuals and posts sexually harassing and threatening Muslim women, celebrating the Bengal famine and the emergence of far-right Hindu extremism.

Jha has been charged under IPC (Indian Penal Code) Sections 153(A), 153 (B), 295 (A), 354 (D), 500 and 509. A Mumbai court sent him to judicial custody till January 10.

Such Disgusting Apps Set Dangerous Precedents

The degradation of women sexuality finding its place in apps such as ‘Sulli Deals’ and ‘Bulli Bai’, can lead one to draw perilous parallels.

In the Nazi era, the German supremacists started making jokes objectifying and harassing Jewish women. The jokes became part of comedy pieces and conversations among the general public, in inns and bars. They gradually started seeping into daily conversations among families too.

 

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This ultimately led to a huge numbers of German, common men turning into rapists and murderers. A hugely dangerous parallel can be drawn to the family WhatsApp groups of today, which have already evolved into apps such as “Bulli Bai” and “Sulli Deals”.

It should also be remembered that the harassment of women does not remain constricted to a particular community, for a long time. It is bound to spread.

Sexual Violence Against Women Ought To Be Treated Seriously

In the Japan of the 1980s, the Yakuza was at its prime. The societal fear against them and the collective silence regarding their crimes led many local bosses to hire juveniles and young adults. These juveniles and young adults started with small crimes such as extortion and ultimately, moved towards committing heinous crimes like gang-rapes.

A gang of juveniles was created by a 17-year-old named Hiroshi Miyano. He escaped judicial action even after repeated gang rapes due to his connections. Miyano, along with Jo Ogura, Minato Nobuharu and Yasushi Watanabe, committed a terrible crime.

They tortured and raped Junko Furuta, a 17-year-old, Japanese, high school student. The case was popularly known as the “concrete-encased high school girl“. It was the hold of Yakuza over judiciary, police and law that led such a gruesome crime.

Lessons should be taken from both, the sexual violence against Jewish women in the Nazi era and the role of the Yakuza in the Junko Furuta case.

The hate spewed by youths from a certain community, against minorities, women and intellectuals, should be taken seriously by the people of India and the government. Silence and callousness will only make the country, where women’s safety is already so low, worse.

Featured image, featuring Rana Ayyub, is for representational purposes only. The journalist was one of the several Muslim women who were targeted through the Bulli Bai app. Photo credit: Rana Ayyub, Facebook.
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