Suzette Jordan: My Name is Not “The Park Street #Rape Victim!”
In 2011 Suzette Jordan was brutally gang raped on Park Street in Calcutta. To read about her case click here. Because the law in India forbids the revelation of a victim’s name and face, and entails a fine and 2 years of imprisonment, the media until now had blurred her face and called her the “Park Street Rape Victim.” Recently Suzette decided to reveal her name and identity. She is probably one of only a handful of Indian women to do so. Below she explains why.
My name is Suzette Jordan and I don’t want to be known any longer as the victim of Calcutta’s Park Street rape.
After the incident, [the police] laughed at me. They didn’t take me seriously. [At the medical examination] I felt like a piece of meat. It drove me crazy, wondering what the hell they [the rapists] did to me while I was unconscious. I was in so much pain. I couldn’t move my body. I became a complete nervous wreck. It frightened me. I started going into a shell. I couldn’t even get up to go the loo. My father had to lift me off the bed to take me to the bathroom. I am 37 years old. That was so embarrassing.
Neighbours made it difficult for me to live in that area [where I was living earlier.] I was made to feel like I was the one responsible for the assault. Because I had come out of the nightclub [with a man], I was made to feel that I invited rape. When my daughters went to school in the morning, some people would look at them in weird ways and pass comments. I’ve been a single mom for 11 years. Instead of saluting [me] for being a both mother and father, they cast aspersions on [me]. Oh, she’s a single mom. Her husband left her. She might have been a prostitute. [Government officials] called me a prostitute and [they] don’t even know me. And [in doing so they also] endanger the life of an actual prostitute. Are [they] trying to say her [a prostitute’s] word does not matter and anyone can do anything to her?
I had to move out from my residence and move elsewhere in the city. Had it not been for my two daughters, I would have committed suicide.
[Of all the jobs I’ve applied for] Never ever till today has anyone gotten back to me. Am I really that worthless because I was at a nightclub [when I was raped]? If nightclubs are so bad then shut them down. I started taking so many anti-depressants, sleeping tablets. I had nightmares. I would wake up screaming. I was a mess. I was hurting myself. Had it not been for my parents and my babies, I definitely would have been dead.
[Now, working for a helpline for victims of sexual and domestic violence] I feel I am healing, sharing the pain [of other victims]. [But] I keep hearing about so many rape stories and feel suffocated by the complete silence of the victims, their families and society.
Recently, I met the family of a rape victim in Calcutta. I thought: ‘How long are we going to live with shame of having been raped?’
[That’s why] I am trying. I am forcing myself to get over the fear. I can’t stop living because I am a rape victim. I was raped. I was brutally raped. But I am alive and I want to fight. I need to fight as I am, not behind a mask, not behind a screen, not behind a blurred image.
[Upon my decision to reveal my name and face] a lawyer has said I am ruining the sanctity of the courtroom. But when the courtroom doors open, the entire families of the accused are outside. They are clicking me on their phones. What about my sanctity?
I love discos. I love dancing but haven’t been back since then. I want to go out to a party. I want to dress up the way I like. But I am so scared to do that. [As for justice] I have nothing against those people [the politicians, police and civil society who have hounded her.] [But] can make it up to me by giving me justice. Not just for me but for every other woman like me in the state.
I am tired of hiding my real identity. I am tired of this society’s rules and regulations. I am tired of being made to feel ashamed. I am tired of feeling scared because I have been raped. Enough is enough!
[So] Don’t distort my voice, don’t blur my picture. My name is Suzette Jordan and I don’t want to be known any longer as the victim of Calcutta’s Park Street rape.