‘Bulli Bai’ app is second online auction attack against Indian Muslim women in months

NEW DELHI: Indian Muslim women ‘for sale’ in bogus online auctions slammed police for lack of seriousness in dealing with targeted online harassment after second such attempt in months, rekindling outrage among women’s groups across the country.

More than 100 Muslim women, including journalists, activists, politicians and even famous Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi, have been offered for bogus auction as “Bulli Bai” of the day on an open source application hosted on the platform. – GitHub web form.

The app, which has since been withdrawn, was the second attempt in less than a year to harass Muslim women in this manner.

Several victims have filed complaints with the police, although some noted that no arrests were made after the “Sulli Deals” case last July, which saw nearly 80 Muslim women exhibited at auction.

“The apathy of the police and their inability to identify and punish the perpetrators then encouraged the app to resurface in a new avatar of ‘Bulli Deals’,” Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women Association.

Fatima Zohra, a Mumbai-based lawyer whose photos were posted without her consent on both apps, said the perpetrators went unpunished because the victims are Muslim women.

“Deep down I have the impression that all of this happened because the culprits benefited from impunity because the victims are Muslim women,” she said.

“What I wonder most is that only Muslim women are being targeted and especially those who speak out and have views on the state’s undemocratic policies,” Zohra continued, adding that the question should be “dealt with in light of the growing Islamophobia towards the Muslim community in India.”

Several of the women who posted their photos on the apps described the incidents as “shocking.”

“This is Islamophobic misogyny perpetrated by right-wing Hindu radicals, and very shocking to me,” Kashmiri journalist Quratulain Rehbar told Arab News.

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More than 100 Muslim women, including journalists, activists, politicians and even famous Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi, have been offered for bogus auction as “Bulli Bai” of the day on an open source application hosted on the platform. – GitHub web form.

Many of India’s 170 million Muslims have said they have felt like second-class citizens since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata came to power in 2014. Since its rise, the minority Muslim community has was the victim of numerous high-profile targeted hate crimes.

AIPWA’s Krishnan said the online attack on Muslim women is “not distinct from the ruling BJP’s majority project,” calling the incidents “a dangerous phenomenon.”

Dr Ranjana Kumari, director of the Delhi-based Center for Social Research, an NGO working on women’s empowerment, told Arab News the incidents were “totally unacceptable”.

“This is totally unacceptable and much more for Muslim women who are very vulnerable given the situation prevailing in the country at the moment,” she said, referring to the targeted attacks against the Muslim minority through India.

Seeing a repeat of the harassment online made Hana Mohsin Khan, a professional pilot based in New Delhi, desperate. Khan had filed a complaint with the police last July, when his name appeared in the “Sulli Deals” app.

“I feel so dehumanized as a woman and a Muslim,” Khan said, adding, “I don’t see anything happening to the abusers anymore. I am really in a bad state.

Among those who lodged a complaint with the authorities about the “Bulli Bai” application, is the journalist Ismat Ara, whose name and photo had been listed. Like many other victims, she has expressed skepticism about the police investigation, but also remains hopeful.

“As no arrests were made in the previous case, this makes me skeptical,” Ara said.

“At the same time, it is also important to have hope because the first step has been taken by filing a complaint with the police and hoping that something will come out that will put an end to such incidents,” he said. she adds.

The National Commission for Women called the incidents “serious concern” and said it was working on them. NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma told Arab News that the commission, which works closely with the Indian government to advise on policies affecting women, is in contact with the police.

“With the help of the Delhi Police, we tried to find the people responsible, but the problem is that the website is in other countries. They don’t give any details. It is therefore difficult for the police to reach the right people, ”said Sharma, member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party.

Delhi Police were not available for comment despite repeated attempts on Monday to reach them.

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