Delhi Commission for Women has taken note of anti-Muslim comments on the social media platform.
Even as the accused in the Bulli Bai case has been arrested and the investigation is ongoing, Muslim women have found themselves in the centre of yet another online harassment. A screen recording of a chatroom discussing why ‘Muslim gals are more beautiful than Hindu gals’ on social media platform Clubhouse was shared by a twitter user on 17 January. One of the principles of Clubhouse reads, “Clubhouse was designed to be a space for authentic conversation and expression—where people can have fun, learn, make meaningful connections, and share rich experiences with others around the world.”
But in recent times, it has become a space for hate speech and targeting of specific communities. The recent conversation in question had around 20 participants in the session – both men and women. The discussion had lewd comments on Muslim women which reeked of deep-rooted Islamophobia.
One of the participants in the session was heard saying that “every Muslim girl is at the end of the day a Hindu”. This statement was followed by the chant of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. A girl later said that 70% of Muslims are converted. While some passed obscene remarks such as “having sex with a Muslim girl is equal to building seven temples”, another member present in the session said that it was equivalent to demolishing the Babri Masjid.
Taking Suo Moto cognisance of the incident, Swati Maliwal, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson tweeted, “Sulli bai, then Bulli bai and now shameless sexual remarks against Muslim girls on the Clubhouse app! Till when will this last? I have sent a notice to the Delhi Police in this matter to file an FIR at the earliest and arrest the culprits.”
The commission has sought information on the FIR registered by Delhi Police in the matter along with information on the arrests made in the case. The Commission has given the Delhi police five days i.e., till 24 January to give the details.
The Print, on 18 January, reported that Delhi Police on Tuesday has registered an FIR under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion) and 354A (sexual harassment) of the IPC in the matter against unidentified persons.
This particular incident has been triggering for the victims of the Bulli Bai incident. One of the victims in the Bulli Bai app incident, Sania Ahmed, tweeted: “Hitting on a muslim girl’s vagina is equal to destruction of 7 Babri masjids”. “We’re RSS fans, we’ll convert muslim girls”.
Swara Bhaskar, actor and social media political influencer, also shared her anguish by tweeting, “Unspeakable filth!! Let’s not act surprised. We allowed it to get here by not raising our voices when hate was being normalised & Muslims were being dehumanised in drawing room discussions & on whatsapp family group chats through seemingly harmless stereotypes! @Clubhouse.”
This is the third major incident targeting Muslim women which has surfaced online in the last 7-8 months after the Sulli deals and Bulli Bai case. While cases were registered in the Sulli deals case, no arrests were made. In the Bulli Bai case, several arrests have been made but this online harassment of Muslim women raises question on the safety of these women on social media. As per the 2020 National Crime Record Bureau data on cyber crimes against women, the total number of cyber crimes against women was 10,405. The data covers cases registered under cyber threatening, cyber pornography, cyberstalking, bullying, defamation, fake profile and other crimes against women.
The worrying sign is that the cases increased by close to 2,050 cases from 2019 to 2020, and more cases have been targeted towards women from a specific community. The number is obviously going up, not down.