Outrage, Call Out Islamophobia: Auction of Muslim Women on Indian App
Several opposition figures have asked the government to take action against the platform and bring those responsible to justice.
Indian Muslim women are once again being offered for sale on an Indian app. Women of all ages who were vocal on pressing political and social issues were among the targeted, including journalists, activists, and lawyers.
Bulli Bai, an open-source program, was hosted on the web platform GitHub, which has since taken it down. This was the second time in months that Muslim women in India were auctioned online to harass them. Moreover, Hundreds of Muslim women were put on the app for "auction", with images taken without consent and doctored. It's the second time in less than a year that this has happened. Sulli Deals, which caused a similar uproar last year, looked to be a clone of the program.
Sulli Deals in 2021 had almost 80 Muslim women put up for sale in a particularly nasty and misogynistic attempt to target India's minority populations. They were intended to harass, humiliate, and intimidate some Muslim women who are known for speaking out against right-wing Hindu nationalism and parts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies.
Significantly, a women journalist whose name and photo appeared on the Bulli Bai app filed a police complaint. It was brought against anonymous people on counts of sexual harassment and incitement to hatred on religious grounds. Similarly, the chairwoman of the National Commission for Women has also urged the Indian Police Commissioner to reveal as soon as possible the case's outcome.
Notably, several opposition figures have asked the government to take action against the platform and bring those responsible to justice. According to 2018 Amnesty International research on online harassment in India, the more vocal a woman was, the more likely she was to be targeted; this was especially true for women from religious minorities and lower castes.
Fake "auctions" extensively circulated on social media are just the latest examples of how technology is being exploited to put women at risk through online abuse, privacy theft, or sexual exploitation - frequently with ease, speed, and low cost. Although they utilize social media to shout out intolerance and injustice against their minority community, Muslim women in India face this risk every day as they are frequently harassed online. Surveillance cameras, location tracking, and fake pornographic videos with doctored images have all increased the risks for women around the world, whether it's trolling with their personal information revealed, surveillance cameras, location tracking, or fake pornographic videos with doctored images. The app was created by right-wing Hindus and featured images of loud Muslim women for sale in an "online auction", causing outrage among human rights organizations and women around the world.
The emotional and psychological toll of such abuse is "just as terrible" as physical assault, with the effects amplified by the content's virality, public character, and long-term availability. Notably, Indian political activist Javed Akhtar has criticized Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to take action against the app Bulli Bai, which has been selling images of over 100 Muslim women. Pakistan has also sharply condemned despicable and reprehensible abuse and insult of Muslim women on the internet and in India's specially designed web application (Salman, 2022).
Several journalists, a Muslim celebrity, and the 65-year-old mother of a missing Indian student were among the ladies listed on the app. After multiple women who appeared in the false auction revealed screenshots and comments on social media, the public was startled and outraged. Around 100 Muslim women's photographs were uploaded on the app for auction, including prominent actress Shabana Azami, the wife of a sitting Delhi High Court judge, as well as journalists, activists, and politicians. Even Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani Nobel Laureate, was not spared by the perpetrators.
In a separate instance that occurred recently, a group of Muslim students at a government college in Karnataka has been forced to sit outside the classroom for weeks just because they were wearing hijab. Moreover, hijabi girls have been marked absent from class despite attending college every day. Since then, a group of six Muslim students at a government-run women's college in India's Karnataka state has sat outside their classroom, allegedly disobeying the regulations by wearing the hijab, which is not part of the uniform. However, according to the students, the headscarf is an important part of their faith, and wearing it is a legal right. Even though the administration allegedly tried pressure tactics to force them to give in, they have maintained their uncompromising stance. Students are concerned about not receiving the required number of points for attendance to sit for the annual exams.
Furthermore, a Hindu religious party in India was recently charged with calling for the 'genocide' of Muslims. Police filed a complaint after videos of a meeting in which Hindu religious leaders advocated for mass murder and the use of weapons against Muslims went viral on social media. Outrage has erupted over videos of Hindu religious leaders in India advocating for the genocide of Muslims, prompting calls for action.
Another similar incident in Haridwar, Uttarakhand State, in which attendees advocated for mass killings and the use of firearms against Muslims, prompted Indian police to open a hate-speech probe. According to a video that went viral, a speaker at the rally warned the crowd that killing Muslims would not result in them going to jail. “We will be victorious even if only a hundred of us become troops and murder two million of them. Only by maintaining this mentality will you be able to safeguard Sanatana dharma' (an absolute form of Hinduism)," the woman stated.
Tensions between Muslims and Hindus have risen in many sections of the country since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014. Persecution of Muslims in India has been progressively institutionalized over the last seven few years, and Indians have become accustomed to it. Since coming to power in 2014, the party has been accused of pushing radical Hindu nationalists to persecute Muslims and other minorities. Anti-government protesters, according to Modi, can be distinguished by their clothing, which is traditional Muslim attire. Modi has pushed Muslims farther into the background, prompting some to propose that they should stay out of politics.
Discrimination against Muslims has occurred in a variety of settings, including employment, education, and housing. Many people face obstacles in their quest for political power and fortune, as well as a lack of access to health care and essential amenities. Furthermore, despite constitutional protections, people frequently struggle to obtain justice after being subjected to prejudice.
India has almost 200 million Muslims, making it one of the world's largest Muslim populations, yet they are still a minority in the predominantly Hindu country. Despite constitutional protections, Muslims in India have endured systemic discrimination, prejudice, and violence since independence.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has risen, according to experts, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership and that of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has pursued a Hindu nationalist agenda since coming to power in 2014. Since Modi's reelection in 2019, the government has pushed controversial policies that critics believe are designed to disenfranchise millions of Muslims by overtly ignoring their rights