"I can’t talk much about my case. It is sub judice,” says Suzette Jordan, who was allegedly raped in Kolkata’s Park Street in 2012. A little over a year after her ordeal, she decided to disclose her identity after attending a protest rally in support of another victim. “I think people give you more respect if they know you. My father was upset about my decision, but my daughters supported me. I wanted justice. I had to fight a battle for it and I couldn’t fight that battle as the Park Street rape victim. I had to fight it as Suzette Jordan,” says the mother of two who had to shift from her Behala residence after she was raped.
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It was in February, 2012, that Jordan hit the headlines after she was allegedly gang raped in Kolkata’s “party street”. While Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, dismissed it as a sajana ghatana or “cooked-up incident”, some whispered that it was a case of “a deal gone wrong” and Suzette’s identity was lost in the grainy silhouette of the “Park Street Rape Victim”. Kolkata reacted with shock and outrage. Rape was not the kind of thing that one associated with Kolkata, much less Park Street.
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Suzette Jordan in Goa, where she was a speaker at a panel discussion on rape at Think Fest 2013. (HT photo/Santosh Harhare)
“When those rumours about how it was a 'case of a deal gone wrong' began circulating, people started disrespecting me, my neighbours, those who came to my Christmas parties! But my present landlady is very nice. She loves me like a daughter,” says Jordan, who doesn’t want to dwell on the negatives. “It’s sad that I had to go through this to find my purpose in life, but I have found my calling. I am now working as an activist. Other victims feel inspired when they hear my story and why I decided to reveal my identity. They ask me to speak at rallies and conventions. Sometime in the future, I want to start a support group, especially for children,” she says.
The shadow of fear, however, refuses to disappear. “Of course, I have been to Park Street after the incident, but only to Grail (a family club for Anglo Indians on Park Street). Someday I hope to return to the place as I would before,” says Jordan who is now too nervous to let her daughters go out alone in the evenings. “If they want to meet friends, they meet them at home. They don’t go out. If the situation in Kolkata ever returns to normal, I will let them,” she says.
Her daughters don’t feel safe either. “We went to the neighbourhood shop the other day and boys on a bike started following us,” Jordan’s younger daughter says. “As teenagers we can’t dress the way we want to. It’s not safe. My friends in school feel the same,” her older daughter adds.
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