Home » News » Sulli Deals: Muslim Women ‘Up For Sale’

No matter how strong you are, but if your picture and other personal information is made public, it scares you, it disturbs you.”

The last week has been the most horrifying week for several Indian Muslim women when they came to know about them being offered for sale in a fake auction on an app named “Sulli Deals”.

Photos of over 80 Muslim women were uploaded on GitHub, the web platform that hosted the open-source app. The photos were uploaded with the title ‘Sulli Deal of the Day”. Sulli is a derogatory slang term used against Muslim women.

Actions So Far

After the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the National Commission for Women sought a probe into the matter, Delhi police registered an FIR on July 8. No arrests have been made so far.

GitHub, a repository hosting service took the content down after it was exposed on Twitter. “GitHub has longstanding policies against content and conduct involving harassment, discrimination, and inciting violence,” said Github spokesperson.

Vocal Journalists, Activists, Artists, and Researchers on Target

“I counted 83 names. There could be more. They’d taken my photo from Twitter and it had my user name. This app was running for 20 days and we didn’t even know about it. It sent chills down my spine,” said Fatima Khan, one of the victims.

25-year-old Hiba Beg who is thousands of miles away in New York, was dismayed after she returned from enjoying Independence Day celebrations in the city and found out about being offered on sale on an app. “Even the physical distance from home in India was not enough to protect me from the immediate feelings of dehumanisation and defeat,” said Beg.

Hindu Or Muslim Comes Later, Safety Of A Gender Is First

Noor Mahvish, a resident of Kolkata who is pursuing her law degree from Allahabad was one of the victims. “I wanted to file a complaint but I was really afraid of how the elders of my family would react if they found out. We are village people. We live in a joint family. I was afraid they would never let me return for my studies. There was too much fear,” said Mahvish.

She further added, “Our society, even our families, ignore harassment. What will they understand about online harassment? They will say why did you put your photo? Why are you talking so much? When I went to file my complaint at the police headquarters, I started crying. I realised that I was crying for my country and the women of my country. How can you sell a woman? My spirit is shivering. There are tears in my eyes. Hindu or Muslim comes later. How can you say ‘women are on sale, come, let’s enjoy it.”

“Eid Special” – Quench Your Lust

A live auction of Muslim women from India and Pakistan was another incident of such harassment and misogyny. A Youtuber identified as Ritesh Jha promoted an online sport Eid Special with the description ‘quench your lust with your eyes’ where they auctioned the morphed pictures of Indian and Pakistani Muslim women and made bids.

One of the victims, Hasiba Amin, had lodged a complaint but no arrests have been made yet.

Social Media- A Toxic Place For Women

These are not the rare incidents of crime against women, it happens on an everyday basis. The internet has always proved itself as the most unsafe place for women who are vocal about their opinions irrespective of their religion.

In the most recent episode, Bengali TV actress Pratyusha Paul has become the victim of online harassment. She has filed a cyber complaint on July 10 about the rape and death threats she has been receiving for the last one year.

A social media influencer, Kusha Kapila also started receiving rape threats after a recording clip of a ClubHouse discussion got viral over the internet. The discussion was based on ‘paper bag sex’ and ‘hate sex’ where she was not even speaking.

Amnesty International released a report online in January last year where over 100 female Indian politicians on Twitter were subjected to unprecedented levels of online abuse. The report submitted that the more vocal a woman was, the more she was targeted. It also revealed that women from religious minorities and disadvantaged castes are harassed more in India.

Open Letter To Prioritise The Safety Of Women

On July 1, over 200 prominent actors, musicians, journalists, and government officials from around the world wrote an open letter urging CEOs of Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter to prioritise the safety of women.

“The internet is the town square of the 21st century. It is where debate takes place, communities are built, products are sold and reputations are made. But the scale of online abuse means that, for too many women, these digital town squares are unsafe,” the letter reads.

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