A one-woman army's fight against the dark side of social media

A one-woman army's fight against the dark side of social media
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Sobha has survived two-and-a-half years of humiliation and isolation. She has taken her fight for justice to its logical conclusion and that struggle will be remembered as a model for women wronged by baseless and malicious campaigns on social media.

One of the three daughters of a farmer at Karinkunnam near Thodupuzha, Sobha was married to a trader of electric goods at Kadavanthra in Kochi. The couple led a contended life with three children until two and a half years ago.

“A relative told me that the staff in my husband's firm had been receiving an objectionable video attributed to me. I lodged a complaint with the Ernakulam South police station the same day. They told me to meet the commissioner since the case was related to cyber crime. I met commissioner M P Dinesh, who referred my complaint to the cyber cell. The police started investigation the very next day. They grilled the staff at the firm and confirmed that the video in question was not mine. By then the video had spread far and wide,” Sobha said.

“The matter should have ended then and there but what followed was a cruel calumny amid my relatives and acquaintances. They said that I shot my own nude video and circulated it. Someone even said that I was arrested along with some other people. I had to prove that it was not me in the video. I went to the police again with a demand to investigate the case again and bring to book those who were responsible for the scandal. Everything started changing at home from then on.

“I was isolated. I was served a divorce notice. There were attempts to keep my children away from me. I was accused of beating up my oldest daughter. I was pained by the divorce case and the discussions about it as well as the ill repute brought on by the video. I could not even go to my children.

“I was sent out of the house one night. I spent the night on the verandah without a wink. I called up Manorama News and told them my story. The reporters offered to provide accommodation through the police women's cell but I refused. I also refused their offer to cover my face during the interview. I was not ashamed because I had done nothing wrong.

“The dogs were barking through the night. I was afraid of the dogs but I told myself that my husband and children were just beyond the wall. I expected someone to open the door at some point but it remained shut. I went to my house at Karinkunnam in the morning.

“I returned to Kadavanthra two weeks later. I did not want to be away from my children. I set up a small electrical trading shop. I could see my children from a distance when they went to church. I could not talk to them.

“Meanwhile, the state cyber forensic lab reported that the video was not clear. That report was not enough to prove my innocence. I filed a petition in the court. The police sent the video to the same lab for further examination as per the court's order. The lab took a year but the second report was the same as the first one.

“I saw the people who raised allegations against me going about as if nothing had happened. I was sure about my position but I had to prove my innocence in front of my children and my 85-year-old grandmother. I did not want them to grow up in the shadow of a scandal.

“That was when some senior officers told me about the Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC). I met the director general of police to push for a follow-up action. He asked me why didn't I approached him earlier. He changed the investigating officer and ordered for the video to be sent to the C-DAC. Within six months, we received a report that the woman in the video was not me. We also knew the list of persons in receipt of the video.

“I have lost count of my visits to the city police commissioner’s office. My life was centered on the police station, court and the advocate’s office. I was away from my children. I was surrounded by innuendos and prying eyes. I could not go to any function. How long could a woman survive such a situation”

“All I want now is to bring to book the people who shattered my life and those who conspired for it. I do not want to think about anything else now.”

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