An app called Sulli Deals has been posting personal information and pictures of Muslim women in India, tagging them, and posting them as “deal of the day.” The slew of posts and auctioning happened as early as the first week of July, until recently when the app was taken down.
Sulli is a derogatory reference to Muslim women in India. The term is commonly used by far-right Hindu groups, such as those responsible for attacking a group of Hindu and Muslim college students just less than two weeks ago.
Sulli Deals is usually hosted by 3rd-party hosting services like GitHub, which has taken it down after being notified of the sexual harassment activities related to the platform’s services.
Twitter, where most of the victims are tagged, also suspended accounts related to the app.
28-year old Saniya Sayed from Mumbai, felt humiliated and traumatized by the experience. Recalling the ordeal as being “auctioned like cattle.” Afreen Fatima, a 23-year old student activist from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, after joining an online discussion about the oppression of Muslim women in India, received a wave of notifications on her social media. She was informed that she was “put up for sale” in an online auction.
The incident is not just limited to Muslim women in India. 25-year old Hiba Beg from New York was celebrating 4th of July (US Independence Day) when she discovered that her pictures and personal information were being shared in an online auction. Hiba, living thousands of miles away, did have feelings of “dehumanization and defeat.”
The incident came days after a Hindu far-right figure called for the kidnapping of Muslim women. Another similar sexual harassment campaign happened a few weeks after the auctioning incident went viral. A YouTube channel has been posting pictures of Muslim women during the recent Eid celebration. The account has already been suspended, and the YouTuber has been identified and charged.
This is just a small clip from this entire live stream. The comments were even more disgusting. This bastard and @Keshu__10 should be booked for using pictures of underaged Pakistani girls and sexualising them live. https://t.co/GiwNWuzDin pic.twitter.com/bcf63TT7Vn
— S (@SupariMan_) May 13, 2021
The public relations officer of Delhi Police, Chinmoy Biswal, said that the police cyber cell has already filed criminal complaints regarding Sulli Deals. Biswal added that they have not yet identified the individuals behind it but are actively working with GitHub. The complaints came after the National Commission for Women and the Delhi Commission for Women called for law enforcement to investigate the app.