Written bySiddhant Pandey
A matrimonial website has removed a skin color filter from its platform after facing criticism online.
Hetal Lakhani—a resident of Dallas, United States—had recently uploaded an online petition against the option on Shaadi.com to select potential partners on the basis of their skin tone.
The website's decision to remove the skin color filter comes amid global anti-racism protests.
According to BBC, Lakhani had found out about the issue from another woman, Meghan Nagpal, who was using the website to find a potential partner.
Nagpal had raised her concerns about the complexion filter on a Facebook group where Lakhani is also a member.
Lakhani then started a petition on Change.org that has received 1,638 signatures at the time of writing.
Nagpal told BBC, "I emailed them (shaadi.com) and one representative said this is a filter required by most parents."
"When Meghan shared this on our group I was really shocked because a company usually has a social responsibility," Lakhani added. "I wanted to tackle this in a way that could make a difference so I started a petition."
The petition stated that Shaadi.com used descriptors like 'Fair', 'Wheatish', and 'Dark' on its website.
The petition sought the removal of the filter, arguing that discrimination on the basis of skin color affects a person's self-esteem and mental health and also has consequences as grave as social exclusion and physical harm.
It said that colorism is socially constructed and rooted in neo-colonialism and casteism.
In response, Shaadi.com said, "We do not ask any of our users to share their skin color or tone and do not discriminate basis this. Since we do not collect this information, one cannot filter profiles basis this. Hence, it doesn't have any implication on the matchmaking."
It added, "That said, it was a blind spot from our side and we have removed it."
After several Bollywood celebrities voiced support to the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, critics slammed their hypocrisy for having propagated colorism through brand endorsements for fairness creams.
This is underpinned by a rampant culture in the South Asian community that obsesses over fairness.
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