‘It’s again … strangers discussing, auctioning us off’
From reporters to a pilot to a Congress leader to the mother of a missing JNU student – these are among the 100 plus Muslim women who found their names on a website that used their photos without consent, alongside degrading text purported to imply they were being auctioned off.
It comes barely six months later another such website has been created, also using GitHub, an internet hosting provider for software development. No arrests have been made so far in this case by the police in Delhi, Noida or Gurgaon.
Some of the women targeted expressed frustration at not having done enough last time, allowing perpetrators to continue operating with impunity.
A journalist, on the basis of whose complaint a FIR has been registered by Delhi police said, “It was January 1st. I opened a WhatsApp message from a friend of mine and clicked “download” on an image that had been sent, assuming it was a “Happy New Year” message. Instead, I saw a screenshot of my photo with the text that I’m the ‘Bulli Bai of the day’. I jumped out of bed in shock. This was not surprising because this is not the first time that this has happened. But we’ve all been through so much in the past year, we’re just recovering from the trauma of Wave 2. I really wanted to start the year on a hopeful note and it was shocking to think that someone was sitting on the last day of the year and doing this to degrade us.
She said she couldn’t ignore it and felt compelled to act, especially since this is a recurrence: “The most worrying thing is that there is had several FIRs tabled the last time, we talked about it in Parliament, the Women’s Committee took note of it. of it, but there was no constructive conclusion.
The mother of a JNU student who has been missing for more than five years has received calls, telling her that she too was listed on the website. She said she ignored him. “It doesn’t make any difference to me. Yeh log ghatiya aur neech harkat karke popular banna chahte hai. I am just a mother trying to get justice for my child. People who respect their mother can never do such a thing, ”she said.
Women who had been listed in the previous case and approached the police also found themselves listed on the new website. One of them, a congressional leader, said, “I was shocked… it was happening again. These strangers discuss our rates, auction us off and use vulgar language… I had filed a complaint even in May when a group of men posted our photos on YouTube and asked other men for money. continue the “entertainment”. I was in trauma. And then I filed an FIR for (the previous GitHub case); I provided Delhi Police with all the evidence, but they never helped me.
Another journalist, barely a year in the profession, also noticed that she was targeted. She is working on filing a complaint. “The only thing that unifies all the women on the list is that they are all Muslims and have all made their voices heard. Most are journalists who just do their job, some are activists and some are even minors who simply express themselves on social media. The message here is, ‘We’re brazen enough to do this to you and we can do it again,’ ”she said.
She said she was in conflict over how to share this experience with her family and whether to speak out publicly.
“My family mourns the recent passing of my grandmother. Although I found out on December 31 that I was targeted, I just told my parents about it and asked them what I should do. They handled it much better than I expected and told me they would help me file a complaint. To be honest, they didn’t seem surprised, we saw the harassment that Muslim women journalists face, ”she said.
A pilot, who had filed an FIR with Uttar Pradesh police in the previous case, said: “I was hopeful and thought I would get justice, but the UP police did not. never even called me for questioning. I called the investigator several times but to no avail. The men have now created another page. When I saw the screenshots I was shocked and almost moved to tears… They will continue to do this because they want to silence our voices and the government is not doing anything. Maybe it works… I feel weak now. I don’t want to go to work and can’t sleep. I always wonder why they used my photo. I never do politics or get into debates or fights. “
Another reporter said a friend whose photo had also been misused filed an FIR with Delhi Police and another filed a complaint with Gurgaon Police the last time around. “None of us have been called for questioning or an update. The police in Gurgaon never contacted her… It’s too stressful and I’m scared. The men will do it again if they are not stopped now, ”she said.