Indian police have opened an investigation into an app showing images of Muslim women that they described as being “for sale as maids”.
The Bulli Bai open source online auction application was hosted by GitHub but has now been removed from the online platform. Indian Information and Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnawm said on Saturday that GitHub had also blocked the user who downloaded the app.
Complaints about Bulli Bai have been received by law enforcement officials in two Indian states. The BBC reports that photos of more than 100 women have been shared without their permission through the app.
Journalist Ismat Ara was one of the women whose photo and name was used on the Bulli Bai app by unidentified cyber-stalkers. She filed a complaint with the police alleging multiple charges, including sexual harassment and incitement to enmity on religious grounds.
Bulli Bai’s reports come six months after an app and website named Sulli Deals took photos of 80 Muslim women that had been uploaded to the internet and used them to create fake profiles. The women in the profiles were then described as “deals of the day” that could be purchased.
Asra said the fact that no arrests have been made by Indian police under the Sulli Deals app sent a message to cyber-harassers that their crimes will go unpunished.
“It is indeed disappointing to see the impunity with which such hate-mongers continue to target Muslim women, without fear of any punishment,” she said.
Although the apps have not been linked to any actual trafficking of Muslim women in India, the intention behind their creation appears to be the degradation and humiliation of a group of people because of their gender and faith.
Journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani, also targeted by the creators of the Bulli Bai app, declared on social media: âCommunity targeting and humiliation is part of the experience of being a Muslim woman journalist in India. “
She added, âThe auction may be bogus, but the persecution is real. “