Justice for Suzette Jordan: Family Recounts Her Fight
The second fast track sessions judge in Kolkata, Chiranjeev Bhattacharya, has held all five accused guilty in the 2012 Kolkata Park Street rape case. The punishment will be announced today. Two of the five accused are absconding, including the main accused.
A jubilant Karen Jordan, mother of the victim, shrieked, “She has won the case. They have been convicted”, when the verdict was announced.
This article was published ahead of the sessions court verdict.
There was a strong sense of hope in the Jordan home in Behala, about 9 kilometres away from Park Street, the nerve centre of Kolkata. Karen and Nicqui Jordan, the mother and sister of ‘Park Street rape victim’ Suzette Jordan, and Suzette’s teenage daughters, Rhea and Jade, were waiting with bated breath.
The Jordan family were engaged in conversation about what Suzette would have been doing the night before the verdict, if she was alive.
The ghastly gang-rape in a moving car on Park Street in February 2012 had shocked the city. Suzette was brutally assaulted and then thrown on the road in the dead of night.
Suzette died of meningoencephalitis in March this year, leaving her family to doggedly pursue the case. Her constant refrain, “When will this case end?” still rings in their ears. Suzette’s last three years had become an endless series of courts and lawyers.
We pray that my sister will finally rest in peace. I know wherever she is, she is still waiting for justice. Whether she is here or not, she still deserves justice. Whatever happened with her was really bad – something that never should have happened. We are waiting to see the culprits punished.Nicqui
Sadly, two of the five attackers are still absconding.
In one of her last interviews, Suzette had said,
Unfortunately, West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s first reaction was to dismiss the gory crime as a fabricated incident, a Left Front ploy to malign her government.
Alluding to Suzette, the then transport minister, Madan Mitra, went a step further on television, “She has two children and so far as I know she is separated from her husband. What was she doing at a night club so late in the night?” It was an unfathomably tortuous journey for Suzette.
For 11 years, she had been a single mother with two teenage daughters. She had to cope with not only snide comments but also character assassination Suzette’s pain was evident in an interview when she exclaimed, “Oh she’s a single mom. Her husband left her. She might have been a prostitute. People who pass these comments don’t even know me. They endanger the life of an actual prostitute. You are trying to say, her word does not matter and anyone can do anything to her.”
For fifteen months Suzette was referred to as ‘the Park Street rape victim’ till she tore away the mask and decided she was going to fight. She did not want to seek refuge behind a blurred image and declared in an interview, “I am not the rape victim. I am Suzette Jordan.”
Women’s activist and entrepreneur Santasree Chaudhuri, failed to get Suzette a job and finally hired her at a helpline she had started, Survivors for Victims of Social Injustice. The pay was modest but for Suzette the healing process began as she helped those in distress. Once home, she would enjoy simple pleasures like cooking a special dish for her family, playing with her white kitten and looking after her plants.
Swayam, a Kolkata-based NGO committed to ending violence against women and children, too supported Suzette in her fight for justice.
What happened was unacceptable and we need a strong message going out that this is unacceptable and you have to bear the consequences. Unfortunately, the main accused is one of the two who is still absconding. It is sad that Suzette will not be there to see justice being done but her family and children deserve that sense of peace.Anu Kapoor, Director, Swayam
Her elder daughter Rhea’s description of her mother in a school essay is truly poignant,
My mother was a rebel, she never had a permanent job. But my mother was one of a kind. She taught me to believe in myself. ‘Never is it important to fit in, it’s okay to stand out and enjoy the view,’ she’d say. Mama taught me to stay humble, ‘No matter how much money, pride or ego we have, all our coffins are made the same size.’ She was the only person I know who has from the beginning till the very end been true to herself, and learned from her mistakes, even though she made one too many of them. She showed me that no one is perfect, and that we shouldn’t judge anyone. When I grow up, I want to be like my mother.