An Indian lady has been arrested on suspicion of orchestrating a fictitious online auction in which hundreds of notable Muslim women were placed “for sale” on a website, according to police.
After it was revealed that a website calling itself Bulli Bai, which is an offensive term for Muslims, had set up a fictitious auction of more than 100 Muslim women, including journalists, academics, activists, scholars, and artists, who were to be “sold” as servants for negligible sums, there was a wave of outrage and disgust in India.
Despite the fact that there were no actual transactions, the Bulli Bai website displayed photographs of the women, many of which were obtained from their social media accounts and modified. There have been numerous complaints about the site from Muslim women who have been outspoken in their criticism of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government. Many have claimed that the site’s purpose is to humiliate and silence outspoken Muslim women in order to further divide India along sectarian lines.
After a similar phoney auction was staged online last July, this is the second recent incident in which Muslim women in India have been harassed by being “sold” online. Despite the fact that multiple police reports were filed in that instance, no one has been arrested as a result of it.
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The Bulli Bai website was taken down within 24 hours, and police were notified by victims in Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad who had lodged complaints with them. On Tuesday, Mumbai police announced that they had apprehended a woman in Uttarakhand who was the primary suspect, as well as apprehended a male engineering student in Bengaluru following a long interrogation period.
According to Sayema Rahman, a well-known radio presenter, she discovered that she was one among them displayed on the website after a snapshot of her name and face was supplied to her by a news journalist.
It is the fact that I am no longer astonished because this has been occurring persistently to women for quite some time now, especially with this communal angle, that is the most alarming,” Rahman stated.
“It’s Islamophobia combined with misogyny,” says the author. A large number of other women have also been targeted because we are the loudest and most emancipated voices. They seek to quiet us by commodifying, shaming, and scaring us,” says the author. “I was targeted, and a large number of other women have also been targeted.”
Despite the fact that the website was condemned by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the national government, in particular the home ministry and the ministry for women, victims are still waiting for a response from the government, according to Rahman. “This is a massive national scandal, but we have yet to hear a word from the central government condemning it or offering assurances, and that is very unsettling and very unnerving for the safety of women in this country,” she said. “This is a massive national scandal, but we have yet to hear a word from the central government condemning it or offering assurances,” she added.
During an interview with the Guardian, IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar stated that his department’s investigative section had looked into the website and that individuals involved would be prosecuted if found to be liable. According to the Indian Government, the internet must be open, trustworthy, and safe for everyone in the country. As he put it, “We take this responsibility really seriously.”
Khalida Parveen, a 67-year-old activist with a long history of activism, was also targeted. On Monday, she filed a police complaint in her hometown of Hyderabad against the culprits as well as the GitHub platform that had permitted the site’s creation and operation.
A GitHub spokeswoman confirmed that the user account that had hosted the website had been terminated and that the company will help with the authorities investigating the incident.
When Parveen filed a police complaint, she demanded that those responsible for the harassment and terrible sexualization of her be charged with “harassment of a senior person and casting aspersions on my character, as well as the community to which I belong,” as well as with “people trafficking.”
She described her feelings as “sad and indignant” when she heard she was one of those who were targeted. In selling me, an elderly person, and other women on the internet, what kind of attitude do these individuals have? Parveen was the one who inquired. We are being targeted on social media by those who wish to suppress us.” “We can witness once more how Muslim women are being targeted by this administration.”
As a result, Parveen believes the auction is intended to punish prominent female Muslim voices, such as journalists and activists, who have called out anti-Muslim hate speech – such as a recent call by Hindu religious leaders, speaking at a religious event in the Hindu holy city of Haridwar in Uttarakhand, for a genocide of Muslims in India.
“Many of us were on social media, calling attention to this hate speech around the world and urging that police charges be brought against the culprits,” she said. “After that, we’re all going to be put up for sale at this auction.” I believe it is an attempt to intimidate us, to make us afraid to raise our voices in order for us to remain silent. But we’re all in this together, and we’re going to be vigorous in our pursuit of justice.”