How does it feel to wake up one morning “on sale” and find your name and picture without your consent on a mobile app? This is nothing but a harsh reality of digital harassment of muslin women in India.
One of the many disturbing social activity of degrading women where pictures of Muslim women including students, activists, journalists, artists, researchers, etc. were uploaded by an unidentified extremist group on an application named “Sulli Deals” using GitHub on Sunday, July 4, with the intention to humiliate and degrade the Muslim women.
The motto of the app says it’s a ‘community-driven, open-source project.’ Once opened, the app would ask the user to click on ‘Find your Sulli Deal of the Day’. It would then randomly display a photo of an Indian Muslim woman most taken from her social media account. ‘Sulli’ is a derogatory term used to refer to Muslim women by Hindu extremists.
The app came to notice when these men had started sharing their ‘deal of the day’ on Twitter, and it has since been removed by GitHub (hosting platform, with a repository of open-source codes.)
Issued Notice to Police on a very serious matter of cyber crime where pictures of several Muslim women were displayed online without their consent and termed as ‘Sulli Deal of the day’. FIR should be registered and strong action should be taken. #SulliDeals pic.twitter.com/MyvKGTsvJ1
— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) July 7, 2021
Hana Khan, a commercial pilot whose name was also among the other women on the list, told the BBC she was alerted to it when a friend sent her a tweet.
The BBC covered #sullideals
Thank you @geetapandeyBBC for this!
— Hana Mohsin Khan | هناء (@girlpilot_) July 10, 2021
The tweet took her to “Sulli Deals”, an app and website that had taken publicly available pictures of women and created profiles, describing the women as “deals of the day”.
The app’s landing page had a photo of an unknown woman. On the next two pages Ms Khan saw photos of her friends. On the page after that she saw herself.
Another discord server called "Hindu Rashtra" where they role-play sexual violence and abuse of Muslim women.
— Tanjiro Tan (@TanjiroTan) July 9, 2021
“I counted 83 names. There could be more,” she told the BBC. “They’d taken my photo from Twitter and it had my user name. This app was running for 20 days and we didn’t even know about it. It sent chills down my spine.”
Ms Khan said she had been targeted was because of her religion. “I’m a Muslim woman who’s seen and heard,” she said. “And they want to silence us.”
However, now dozens of women whose details had been shared on the app have now taken to social media to bash the perverts and promised to take a stand for themselves. Many have formed WhatsApp support groups while some like Ms. Khan have filed complaints with the police.
This is not the first time women have been a subject of such harassment. Back In May, a YouTube channel called ‘Liberal Doge Live’ whose real identity is reportedly Ritesh Jha, live circulated the photos of Muslim women on the festival of Eid with a description in Hindi that read: “Today, we will stalk women with our eyes filled with lust. This tweet makes me sick to my stomach.
This hate and objectification of women has been normalized over the course of time with no action being taken repeatedly. And it is not just Muslim women have to do the effort to call out such disgusting creatures, they are further told how it is their fault by the society of moral policing and how receiving hateful and shameful comments on social media platforms is also on them.
“This ‘Sulli Deals’ mobile app is not the only incident to take place as it is deeply rooted anti-Muslim ideology that advocates for lynchings and rapes, present in Hindu book literature. It all joins the dots to an anti-muslim sentiment movement of the majority.