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Sample Case Study: Selena's Case

Initial presentation

Selena is in her final year of college. She attends college in Manila, Philippines, but she heads back to her province in Angeles every chance she gets to visit her parents and her younger siblings. In order to augment her limited funds for her studies, she is a part-time barista at a local coffee shop.

On one trip home, she finds her parents very upset. They accuse her of abusing her freedom in Manila and using her looks to meet foreign men. They slut-shame her, and threaten to cut off their support. They demand that she stop dating foreign men online and causing them problems.

Selena does not use any kind of dating app – she's too busy with school and work. And she already has a boyfriend.

After hours of her parents shouting at her, she finally gets a picture of what happened:

The day before, Heinz from Germany had knocked on her parents' door, demanding to see Selena. He brought with him copies of conversations that he has had with Selena, and the pictures that she has shared with him. Those conversations happened both on the dating app chat and on WhatsApp. He implied that he and Selena have engaged in cybersex. Apparently, he had sent Selena money so she could start applying for a German visa in order to visit him. When she did not get a visa, he had then sent her money to purchase a ticket so they could meet up in Bangkok, where they could be together without her conservative parents watching their every move. She did not show up. Heinz had tried getting in touch with her but she was unresponsive. So he felt he had no choice but to pay her parents a visit. They refused to let him in and threatened to call the authorities if he kept on insisting on seeing Selena.

Heinz had left, angry.

Sounds like a con gone wrong.

Problem: Selena is not aware of any of this. She has never talked to any Heinz. She has not received any money from him. She was not in a long-distance relationship with anyone.

It looks like Selena's pictures and identity were used to "catfish" Heinz.

(Catfishing is when someone takes screen-grabs of someone's photos online and creates accounts in their name in order to con other people. Sometimes, the real name of a person is attached to the fake account, but there have been cases where the photos are attached to fake names.)


In response to the incident, Selena had removed all her photos from all her social media accounts, and had sent a message to the dating app and WhatsApp that the account with her pictures was a fake one that some people had used to swindle a German user.

She and her family have not heard back from Heinz. He seems to have left Angeles after her parents turned him away.

One day, at school, a few of her male classmates start heckling her, calling her a slut and a swindler, saying that it's a shame that a pretty girl like her would use her looks that way. One of Selena's friends show her a Facebook page called "Selena is a Slut Swindler". On that page, Heinz recounts what "Selena" had done to him – with screen grabs of their conversations, her pictures, and audio recordings of their cybersex sessions.

The page has trended, and has received a lot of likes and followers.

What can Selena do?

Sample Case Study: Dewi's Case

Initial presentation

Dewi is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is a 30-something trans woman, working as a call centre agent for a large multi-national online retail company. With two of her closest friends, Citra and Indah, she has just recently started a small organisation to promote SOGIE equality in Indonesia.

Since they started the organisation, the three of them have been invited to local events around LGBTQI+ rights and have attended demonstrations to support their advocacy. She has been captured in the local news speaking out against toxic masculinity and religious fundamentalism.

One morning, as Dewa was getting ready to go to work, she receives a message on her Facebook Messenger. It´s from an account called, Mus: ¨You made me so happy last night. Do you want to make me happy again tonight?¨ She dismisses it as a wrongly-sent message, so she responds with: ¨I think this is not for me. Wrong send.¨

To which Mus replies, ¨It is meant for you, Ms. Dewi. I saw your pictures and I want to see you in person. So you can make me happy again.¨

Scared that Mus knows her name, she just messages back and says, ¨I don´t know you, please stop.¨ She then blocks Mus.

She casually shares the incident with Citra and Indah, and they all dismiss it as someone who saw a picture of Dewi in one of the public events and developed a crush on her. If Dewi was being honest with herself, it was a bit flattering.

Then more messages keep showing up from different users on her FB Messenger. The messages get progressively ruder and more explicit. She is also getting more friend requests on Facebook. She opts to block those users and tries to ignore them.

She keeps Citra and Indah updated on what is happening and her two friends are getting worried for Dewi.

To try to get to a reason as to why Dewi was being harassed, Citra Googles Dewi´s name. What they find are images in which Dewi´s face is edited on to naked transwomen´s bodies. The images are all labeled with Dewi´s name, and posted on DIY pornography sites.

Immediately, the three of them write to where the images are posted to request for the take down of the photos and of Dewi´s name on them. They all hoped that that was the end of that and the harassment would stop.


One day, Dewi´s supervisor calls her in for a meeting. Then the supervisor shows her Twitter messages addressed to their company with a copy of the doctored images with the caption: Is this what your employees look like? What kind of morals does your company have? Fire HIM!¨

According to her supervisor, their company´s Twitter account was bombarded with the same messages from multiple accounts.

What can Dewi do?

Go back to this activity's main module (Online Gender-Based Violence)