Union minister Smriti Irani said on Monday that women, irrespective of religion, have been denied dignity on social media, The Indian Express reported. She urged people to cut across party lines to address this concern.
Irani made the statement while responding to a question on the targeting of Muslim women through apps such as “Bulli Bai”. “Bulli” is a derogatory word used to refer to Muslim women.
Photos of more than 100 prominent Muslim women were taken from their social media accounts without permission and displayed on the app for “sale” as “Bulli Bai” of the day. The app was hosted on web platform GitHub, which has since taken it down amid widespread anger on social media.
Irani said on Monday that she is working with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Department of Telecommunications on the security of women on the internet. Irani is the Union Minister for Women and Child Development.
“I am grateful that the police are investigating this issue,” the minister told The Indian Express. “I am absolutely confident that those who are guilty will be punished. My desire is also this...”
On Friday, the Delhi Police arrested Neeraj Bishnoi, allegedly the main conspirator in the “Bulli Bai” case, from Assam. The police have arrested a total of four persons in connection with the case.
Irani on Monday also said that it was time to revisit conversations on the impact of pornography on the minds of young people.
The minister also spoke about a tweet posted by actor Siddharth on January 6 in which he made a seemingly sexual slur aimed at badminton player Saina Nehwal. He posted the tweet after Nehwal expressed concern about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy being stuck for several minutes on a flyover in Punjab.
Irani said that Nehwal was demeaned for her political position by a “man who would have known better”.
“Ms Nehwal had a point of view,” the minister added, according to The Indian Express. “But she was demeaned and objectified. Should such men be brought to justice as well?”
On Monday, the National Commission for Women said it has written to Twitter India to block Siddharth’s account over the tweet.
“This man needs a lesson or two,” the women’s panel chairperson Rekha Sharma said in a tweet. “Twitter India why this person’s account still exists? Taking it up with concerned police.”