Shoba’s story

Her fight for justice has a larger resonance in the age of social media

Shoba Saju, who lives in Kochi, is an unlikely hero. The misuse of social media upturned her world, but she refused to be the victim. She picked up the pieces. Three years ago, a nude video was circulated on Whatsapp by an employee at her husband’s shop who claimed that the woman in the video was Shoba. She filed a police complaint and after an investigation by the cyber cell, the man who circulated the video was arrested. However, her husband refused to be convinced and moved out with their three children, filed for divorce.

As the petition was being processed, Shoba sought a reinvestigation and demanded conclusive proof — the state forensic laboratory had earlier held that the images in the video were unclear and its source could not be traced — to establish her innocence. A forensic analysis by the C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) conclusively established that the woman in the video was not Shoba.

Shoba says her fight was to ensure that her children did not have to live with slander about their mother. What is most remarkable about her fight is that she refused to be subdued by the societal stigma associated with the crime. While living in a state where society can be extraordinarily misogynist and voyeuristic despite its remarkably high standards of literacy and other development indices, she refused to hide her identity during her pursuit of justice. Her dignity and self-respect could not be compromised, she said. Her case is not just about an exceptionally courageous individual. Even now, in India, despite the advances in jurisprudence when it comes to crime against women, it is the victim who must retreat into a corner, her identity needs to be protected. Shoba’s bravery highlights that it is the perpetrators who need to be on the run, and ashamed.

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