The recent online auctioning of Muslim women by sourcing their photos without their permission has sparked widespread outrage and call for perpetrators to be brought to justice. The Delhi Union of Journalists and its Gender Council expressed shock and anger at the incident that targeted Muslim women on the ‘Bulli Bai’ app.
Photographs of more than 100 Muslim women, including prominent actress Shabana Azmi, several journalists and activists were used on the app for auction as “Bulli Bai” of the day.
This is not the first time Muslim women have been targeted in this manner. A similar fake online auction of 80 Muslim women was held on an app named ‘Sulli Deals’ less than a year ago. ‘Sulli’ and ‘Bulli’ are derogatory words that refer to Muslim women.
the Delhi Union of Journalists said in its statement that had the police identified the culprites behind ‘Sulli deals’ last year, this incident would not have been repeated. The new online application, created on Microsoft-owned open software development site GitHub, was similar to the last one.
Some of the victims of the online targeting have filed police complaints. The Delhi Police registered an FIR based on a complaint by Ismat Ara, a Delhi-based journalist, against unknown persons for harassing and dehumanising Muslim women on social media. Ara’s photo was also used on the ‘Bulli Bai’ app and a tweet on the ‘auction’. “The entire website/portal is designed to insult Muslim women and investigation is required as to there is any organised conspiracy regarding the same,” she said in her complaint, whose photo she shared on Twitter.
“We salute the bold women who filed FIRs against the publication of their photos, auctioning their bodies to bidders on the ‘Bulli Bai’ app. We urge the police in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad, where women have lodged complaints, to act urgently on the matter. Mumbai Police has detained a suspect from Bangalore but others need to be identified immediately,” the DUJ said.
“We congratulate the Wire journalist Ismat Ara for her courage in filing a case with the Delhi Police. We express our solidarity with all members of the Delhi Union of Journalists who are facing these attacks,” the statement added.
The journalists’ body has also appealed the courts and police to act on the issue while urging victims to come forward to report and put forth their ordeal.
The DUJ also lent support to an online petition urging the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognizance and monitor the investigation and prosecution of this matter.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Police arrested an engineering student named Vishal Jha in the Bulli Bai case. A woman from Uttarakhand, suspected to be the main culprit, was also detained by the police, news agency ANI reported.