Photographs of more than 80 Muslim women put up for sale on an app are triggering outrage and calls for action.
The creators of the platform offered visitors a chance to claim a “Sulli” – a derogatory term used by right-wing Hindu trolls for Muslim women – calling them “deals of the day”.
The incident came on a day a Hindu far-right man called for the abduction of Muslim women at a gathering in Pataudi.
GitHub, which hosted the app, took it down after public outrage and complaints.
A week after the app was discovered, no arrest has been made.
Prominent journalist and activist Rana Ayyub, who has been at the receiving end of vicious sexualised trolling for her outspoken views, said that this was and is done “systemically” to target vocal Muslim women.
“The way they [Hindu far-right groups] sexualise you is the only way they believe they can shame and silence Muslim women online. We are supposed to be ‘oppressed’ in their books – so they think, ‘How dare we speak out for ourselves?’” Ayyub, who is a columnist for the Washington Post, told Al Jazeera.
Media professional Sania Ahmad, whose profile also appeared on the Sulli Deals app, says this sort of violence online is hardly surprising.
“It’s a very sad thing, but I’ve gotten used to this. Last year, there was a poll running where a Hindutva account asked ‘Which of the Sanias should I choose for my harem?’ The results were eventually published and the comments below called for even more violence. There were comments like – ‘why should we add them to the harem, just f*** them and dump them’. Another one said, ‘I want to chop off their heads and use them to decorate my wall.’”
Ahmad’s images were morphed on pornographic visuals after she spoke out against a similar instance of virtual auctioning of Muslim women on the night before Eid this year. A YouTube channel run by “Liberal Doge Live”, reportedly a man by the name of Ritesh Jha, ran an “Eid Special” – a “live auction” of Muslim women from India and Pakistan.