Dr Anju’s photograph began to circulate on social media, along with an audio of a Kerala man accusing priests of the Orthodox church of sexually harassing his wife.

Neither Kerala church abuse victim nor a stock image STOP circulating her selfie
news Crime Monday, July 02, 2018 - 13:21

Pathanamthitta-native Dr Anju Ramachandran was not following the Kerala Orthodox church’s sex-for-silence case. Until she was forced to. On June 25, a former colleague called her up to tell her that an audio clip of a man accusing the priests of sexually harassing his wife, that was circulating on WhatsApp along with a photo: A photo of hers.

"I was shocked to see that my photo was being shared in this manner. Later, my husband also received this forwarded WhatsApp message from a cousin," Dr Anju tells TNM.

Though she was taken aback, this was not the first time that her photo was being misused. This is a six-year-old photograph that she had shared on Facebook, Dr Anju tells TNM on phone from Adoor in Pathanamthitta. It was shared with vulgar content on a WhatsApp group once, and was also used in a Facebook profile under the name of an adult actor.

"This is the fourth time this is happening. First instance was in April 2017, when my photograph began to circulate on a vulgar WhatsApp group. Members on the group shared pornographic content and my photograph landed in it. Two or three months later, a Facebook profile appeared with the name of an adult film actor which used my photo as its profile pic. Yet again a few months ago, the same pic circulated along with a prank call audio," Dr Anju says.

The pic that has been circulated four times. TNM has added 'Do not forward' watermark.

In all the instances, Dr Anju promptly filed police complaints, but no arrests were made. While the police warned a few members of the WhatsApp group that shared pornographic content, the fake Facebook profile was taken down by the social networking site after several users reported it.

This time, she hopes they put a stop to her photo being misused. On June 26, she filed a complaint with the Adoor DySP and Pathanamthitta cyber cell. Two days later on June 28, she filed a complaint with the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) in Thiruvananthapuram. Following this, Pathanamthitta SP was directed to look into the case and Anju's statement was subsequently recorded.

But the last few days have been tense, with her friends and extended family calling her up after seeing the WhatsApp message. While Dr Anju says that she will pursue the case, the incidents have forced her to limit her social media usage.

"After the first incident, I took off all my single photos from my Facebook profile. Now only very few photos, with my mother and husband, are up on the site," Dr Anju says.

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