New Delhi, India – On January 1, Quratulain Rehbar, a journalist from India-controlled Kashmir, woke up and saw that he was listed in the “online auction”. Her photos were uploaded to an app for “sale” without her permission.
She is not alone.
Photos of more than 100 Muslim women, including the famous actress Shabana Azami, the wife of the current judge of the Delhi High Court, several journalists, activists and politicians, were displayed on the app as the day’s “Bulli Bai” auction.
Even Pakistan’s Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousufzai was not spared.
In last July’s “Shirley Sale“, of which nearly 80 Muslim women were “sold.” “Bulli Bai” was the second such attempt in less than a year.
“‘Bulli’ and’Sulli’ are both derogatory terms for Muslim women in local slang. However, this time Punjabi is used in the’Bulli Bai’ interface along with English,” Mohammad Zubair, a reporter working for the fact-checking website AltNews, told The Peninsula TV station.
Rehbar reported on the “Sulli Deals” auction in July last year, and she told Al Jazeera that she was shocked to see her picture on the app.
“When I saw my photo, my throat was heavy, and I got goose bumps on my arm, and I was numb. It was shocking and humiliating,” she said.
Last year, I wrote an article about how the photos of Muslim women are auctioned online, and the women feel distressed and humiliated.Today, a year later, I saw my own photos in another trend #bullidealsExcept for other Muslim women, it makes me feel very disgusting. https://t.co/AE0N1sInE2
-Quratulain Rehbar (@ainulrhbr) January 1, 2022
Although no real sales were involved, according to Rehbar, the online application created on GitHub, an open software development site owned by Microsoft, was intended to “depreciate and humiliate prestigious Muslim women.”
The app was taken down on Saturday, and the victim said that the interface of the GitHub extension on “Bulli Bai” was surprisingly similar to the interface used by “Sulli Deals”.
By Saturday night, dozens of other Muslim women saw their photos and detailed information on the app and began to express shock and anger on social media.
Among them is Ismat Ara, a journalist based in the capital New Delhi.
Allah filed a lawsuit with the Delhi police on Saturday, accusing “unknown people” of harassing and insulting Muslim women by “using tampered pictures in unacceptable and indecent circumstances” on social media.
According to her complaint, the Delhi Cyber Police registered a preliminary information report (FIR) on Sunday, citing various parts of Indian criminal law, which involved the promotion of hostility, threats to ethnic integration and sexual harassment of women on religious grounds.
Update: The Cyber Police (Southeast Delhi) registered FIR based on my complaint against IPC section 153A (promotion of hostility on the grounds of religion, etc.), 153B (detrimental imputation for national integration), 354A and 509 Harassment. #BulliDeals pic.twitter.com/dJ1mspyiGI
-Ismat Araa (@IsmatAraa) January 2, 2022
Following another complaint from Sidrah (whose photo also appeared on the app), Mumbai, the financial capital of India, also filed a police case against various Twitter users and the developer of the “Bulli Bai” app.
However, Ara stated that she has no hope of the police investigation, and her concern stems from the investigation in the “Shirley Deal” that no one was arrested even after six months.
Fatima Zohra Khan is a lawyer based in Mumbai. Her name appeared in the “Sulli” and “Bulli Bai” transaction. She also lodged a complaint with the Mumbai police last year.
“Although the Mumbai police themselves asked them to disclose the data, we did not get a response from Twitter, GitHub and Go-Daddy (web hosting company). These sites refused to share information unless a court order was presented,” she told Al Jazeera.
Police officials in New Delhi and Mumbai did not respond to Al Jazeera’s inquiries about the latest “auction”.
I have been trying to gather some strength to write something about #BulliDeals. Just when I thought I had left the trauma #SulliDeals Behind me, it once again haunted us (me and more than 112 Muslim women) with an updated version as a New Year gift. 1/6
-Nabiya Khan | Nabiya Khan (@ NabiyaKhan11) January 2, 2022
“It is sad to see how these hate dealers are allowed to target Muslim women without fear. This is not the first time such an auction has been conducted,” Ara said.
“The women targeted are outspoken women who raise Muslim issues on social media. Shutting down these Muslim women is clearly a conspiracy because we challenge the Hindu right online against their hate crimes,” she added.
During the Muslim Eid al-Fitr last year, a YouTube channel named “Freedom Governor” shared photos of Pakistani women in a sexy video called “Eid al-Fitr Special”. After the anger, it was deleted by the company.
A few weeks after the incident, Muslim women were “auctioned” on Twitter based on the “Shirley Deal”.
The collective anger of Muslim women that you have witnessed on your timeline today comes from a deep pain-being alienated, demonized, and patronized at the same time. The experience has gone from being continuously degraded to online sales. #BulliDeals
-Fatima Khan (@khanthefatima) January 1, 2022
Several Indian lawmakers have raised the matter with the government, including Priyanka Chaturvedi in Maharashtra, western Mumbai.
After her tweet called on the Indian IT minister to take “draconian action” against “misogynistic and public targets against women”, the minister stated that GitHub has blocked users responsible for hosting the site and that “the police are coordinating further actions.”
“The police complaint was registered during the’Shirley Deal’. However, no action was taken. This is why these people feel bold,” Chatovidi told Al Jazeera.
There are many Muslim names, including mine, in annoying places #BulliDeals , it’s the same as #SulliDeals
Even Najib’s mother was not spared. This is a reflection of India’s broken judicial system and dilapidated legal and order arrangements. Are we becoming the most insecure country for women?
-Sayema (@_sayema) January 1, 2022
Rehbar said this is “especially worrying” for Muslim women who “fight against patriarchy and restrictions” on the one hand and “face such harassment” on the other.
“Women are often asked to delete their photos from social media and hide them. After such attempts to harass Muslim women, it will be difficult for many women to express their views.”
Rana Ayyub, a columnist for the Washington Post in Mumbai, told Al Jazeera that people “have cheered targeted female harassment without legal confirmation.”
“‘Bulli Bai’ took hate crimes in India to another dangerous level, where Muslim women were actually violated and offered freedom to die-hard thugs,” she said.
“These auctions of women from ethnic minority communities show India’s moral decline and its constitutional values.”