In progress in the ‘bulli bai’ case until yesterday, Mumbai police initiated a probe, Delhi police registered an FIR, the hosting platform GitHub blocked the user behind the ‘bulli bai’ app, Twitter suspended an account that had been sharing links to the app, and GoI asked for a high-level probe from the nodal agency for monitoring cyber threats CERT-In.
But similar moves after the original ‘sulli deals’ attack last July have yet to see concrete action against the perpetrators. Unless the perpetrators are actually caught and prosecuted, the message that goes out is that police and other authorities do not really take such targeting of Muslim women seriously. The resulting sense of impunity will encourage further attacks.
A toxic hostility to women preexists in the online ecosystem. With the bulli bai and sulli deal ‘auctions’, this hostility has taken a more perverted and targeted form. It specifically seeks to demean and discourage Muslim women, be they students or journalists or pilots. Even women from other communities, besides empathy, would feel more self-conscious or even scared about the opinions and images they share in online public spaces. A pandemic proverb is that no one is safe until everyone is safe. But for now, it seems that those perpetrating misogynist and communal abuse are safer than the women they attack. Changing this topsy-turvy equation of vulnerability needs timely justice from the arms of the state.
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