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“Sulli Deals” Case: Muslim Women Targeted For Their Gender And Religious Identity, Again

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Sulli Deals app case: The Delhi Police have registered a case against unknown individuals for creating an app named ‘Sulli Deals’ on GitHub, a popular software development platform that hosted the app. This step was taken after a number of Muslim women, mostly Indians, were put ‘on sale’ on a now-defunct app. Sulli is a derogatory term used against Muslim women. After social media outrage, legal action is finally being taken in the matter.

“We sent notices to GitHub to share all crucial details about this website yesterday (on Wednesday),” said Prem Nath, Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police, Cyber Cell. He assured that an FIR has been registered by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police and the investigation is on in the case.

Here are ten things to know about the Sulli Deals case:

1. The police have registered a case days after as many as 90 Muslim women were put ‘on sale’ on the website called Sulli Deals.

2. The website described itself as a “community-driven open source project”. The app creators have reportedly illegally collected photos of the targetted women from their social media accounts, used them inappropriately on the app, and encouraged people to participate in their “auction”.

3. It profiled Muslim women journalists, activists, analysts, artists and some of the well-known researchers and put these profiles up “for auction”. The information revealed included photographs, contact details and Twitter handles.

4. The matter came to light late Sunday when a Twitter user named ‘K’ found the link of the website on the internet and tweeted about it. She is among those who were named on the website. “This isn’t the first time Muslim women have been targeted in such a manner. I don’t think the police, the NCW (National Commission of Women), or anyone else for that matter really cares about this,” said the woman who chose to remain anonymous.

5. On Sunday (July 4), several Twitter users found the link online and shared screenshots of the app that has a tagline that reads “Sulli deal of the day” and is put across photos of Muslim women. It led to a widespread outrage online.

6. According to the upload date of the photographs, it appears the website had been active at least for the last 20 days.

7. Majority of the women targeted on the app were Indian. However, profiles of some women of other nationalities, including Pakistan, were also allegedly auctioned.

8. The creators of the website are still unknown. However, the software development platform GitHub took the app down on Monday claiming that they have longstanding policies against content and conduct involving harassment, discrimination, and inciting violence. “We suspended user accounts following the investigation of reports of such activity, all of which violate our policies,” a company spokesperson told ThePrint.

9. The police registered a case under Section 354A (punishment for sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code late Wednesday, on a complaint received through the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal. A senior police officer said that GitHub will help with all details including the names and locations of the owners of the website.

10. The National Commission of Women (NCW) on Thursday also took suo motu cognisance of the case. Chairperson Rekha Sharma has written to the Delhi commissioner of police seeking a detailed action-taken report on the case. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Anyesh Roy, DCP, Cyber Cell. The women’s panel has sought a reply from the police by July 12.