Srinagar: Quratulain Rehbar, a journalist from Kashmir on January 1, was informed by one of her friends from Delhi that her photograph was on sale on ‘Bulli Bai’, an app made to auction Muslim women online.
The app was made by right wing Hindus where photos of vocal Muslim women were put up for sale in an “online auction”.
Like Qurat, several Muslim women found themselves on ‘auction’ on the app hosted by GitHub where users posted their photographs, many of them doctored.
The targets included women vocal on political and social issues, spanning age groups. Prominent journalists, activists and lawyers were among those listed for ‘auction’ in the app.
In July, last year on a similar app “Sulli Deals”, photographs of nearly 80 Muslim women including students, activists and journalists were put on sale as an online auction.
“I was traumatized after I came across my photograph on this app where I was being sold. I turned numb and couldn’t think what to do and how to deal with it for a second as it was such a horrible and humiliating moment for me,” Qurat told Free Press Kashmir.
“I have seen my photographs posted on Instagram on various pages without my consent but I never expected me to be auctioned on an app which is online trafficking of a human being’s photograph,” she added.
Photos of more than 100 Muslim women including prominent politicians, journalists and actresses, activists, were displayed on the app for auction as “Bulli Bai of the day”.
“I was shocked when I found that my picture have been morphed obscenely on an app. I have been trolled several times on times but this act of auctioning online objectifies and dehumanizes women and is disrespectful in every manner and is direct target and insult to the women who have been listed on it,” Ismat Ara, a journalist whose photos were also listed on the app said.
Qurat said that this shows the mindset of the people who are behind such acts, adding that “being a Muslim and a Kashmiri, there is the vulnerability.”
Both Sulli Deals and Bulli Bai are derogatory terms used to refer to Muslim women in India. The app has been designed with the intention of embarrassing and insulting Muslim women.
Qurat who has been voicing her anger on it says, “I chose to speak up for not only myself but for others as well. I would have gone to Women Commission Office but unfortunately here in Kashmir, we don’t have that.”
On the other hand, Ismat said that she had filed an FIR at Cyber Crime Police, Delhi based on complaints under IPC sections 153 A (promoting enmity on the grounds of religion), 153B (imputations prejudicial to national integration) and 354A and 509 for sexual harassment.
The Delhi Police and Mumbai Police have also filed an FIR in the matter and even the Delhi Women Commission and National women commission have taken cognizance of it assuring strict action.
This comes months after the Sulli Deals app where action is still pending.
Ismat further added that it is important to speak on these happenings and it is also understandable who can’t raise a voice because of stigma related to it.
The app has since been taken down.
Meanwhile, Ismat who is not hopeful for action said that it can happen again.
“This is the second time it happened. I am not hopeful about the police as no arrests were made since the last incident which took place six months ago, even after writing to Home Ministry and filing FIRs.”
“It will continue if no action will be taken this time,” she added.
On Sunday, Journalist Federation of Kashmir condemned bullying and auctioning of Muslim Women and wrote in a tweet that “this systematic abuse, demonization and patronising of these brave women are a testimony to the fact they are surely frustrating the forces and power centres they spoke and wrote against. We stand in solidarity with all these women and Quratulain, who will continue their journey of speaking truth to power.”
Meanwhile, police in Mumbai have arrested an engineering student in the case.
The accused Vishal Jha was arrested in Bengaluru and was brought to Mumbai yesterday. He is now being questioned, reports said, adding, that another woman from Uttrakhand has been detained in this connection.