A fake online auction known as ‘Bulli Bai’ has garnered attention over the past few days.
Journalists, social workers and other prominent Muslim women in India discovered that they were being “bought and sold” online through a series of doctored photographs on a website hosted by GitHub. The term ‘Bulli Bai’ itself is a derogatory term used to refer to Muslim women and if that wasn’t humiliating enough, the pictures used were also accompanied by the tagline: “Your Bulli Bai of the day.”
Journalist Ismat Ara filed a complaint with the Delhi Police over the weekend after she discovered she was a victim of the vile ‘Bulli Bai’ page. In a tweet, she addressed the incident, writing: “It is very sad that as a Muslim woman you have to start your new year with this sense of fear & disgust. Of course it goes without saying that I am not the only one being targeted in this new version of #sullideals. Screenshot sent by a friend this morning.”
Below the tweet, she attached a copy of the screenshot.
And, as she stated, she wasn’t the only victim.
Across the other side of the world, in New York, former journalist and tech professional, Hiba Bég woke up to the same fate.
“Today I visited my grandmother’s grave for the first time since I lost her to COVID. As I sat in the car to go home, concerned friends told me that once again, my pictures were being auctioned off (along with those of other Muslim women) by Modi’s India. You did nothing to stop this the last time, and here it is again. I have censored myself, I hardly speak here anymore, but still, I am being sold online, I’m being made “deals” out of. @ColumbiaSIPA – Your student is being sold online, twice in a matter of half a year,” she wrote in a series of emotional tweets online.
“When I ask my privileged Hindu friends to speak, I don’t do it out of cautionary plans. I do it because it is screaming in my face. I am not safe in this country. Muslim women like me are not safe in this country. How many online deals will it take for us to see action? HELP US!”
People have been calling out for action against the perpetrators and slowly, we are finally seeing some progress. Just a few hours ago, a twenty-one-year-old man was arrested in connection with the crime.
The news comes only 6 months after a similar incident occurred in 2021. The ‘Sulli Deals’ scandal saw another auction website gain global attention last year. It had an almost identical premise. Photos of Muslim women were published to a website, also hosted on GitHub, to be auctioned off like animals.
Even though complaints were made for the ‘Sulli Deals’, in the end, no punishments were given and it was quickly brushed under the rug.
This is just a further sign of the oppression of Muslims in India, especially Muslim women. Anti-Muslim propaganda has been long infecting the country, but recently tensions have been hitting a boiling point.
Just a few weeks ago, right-wing Hindu extremists and monks called for a complete and utter wipeout of the country’s Muslim population during a 3-day conference that took place in the northern city of Haridwar in India.
The crowded venue played host to hundreds of vocal leaders, some of whom have intimate ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party. They spent a concerning portion of their time discussing the most efficient methods to eradicate Muslims from the country.
Videos and photographs taken at the event were shared to social media, immediately sparking global outrage due to the blatantly violent and racist nature, with some of the so-called ‘activists’ even using Hitler’s Nazi hail while taking an oath to embark on a killing spree.
We hope to see charges at the end of this investigation. We will settle for nothing less. What we have seen over the past few weeks in India has been nothing short of harrowing. Not only is this an attack on an entire religious group, it is an attack on women and human rights as a whole. It must be addressed.
We also hope change is implemented very soon and with the 2022 Assembly Elections on the horizon, it could be possible. Until then, continue raising awareness for our brothers and sisters, their voices deserve to be heard. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Muslims of India as well as the other minority religions that have been targeted during this incredibly difficult time.