Suzette Jordan had been a prominent women’s rights activist and anti-rape campaigner from Kolkata, India. Suzzette herself was a brave survivor of gang rape in Park Street, Kolkata. Earlier, she was referred to in the media only as the Park Street Rape victim. But she herself publicly revealed her identity as a survivor of gang rape in 2013 and protested the spate of ongoing rapes and murders of women. She encouraged other survivors to live with dignity and speak out about their pain. When Suzzette reported the crime, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, called her a liar and accused her of trying to embarrass the government. It provoked national outrage.
Suzette Jordan story is of a single mother with two young daughters. She was an independent lady who wanted to live life on her own terms. On the night of February 5, 2012, she went with some of her female friends to a pub for some drinks. A man who befriended her in the pub offered her a lift in his car. He along with his friends raped Suzette. In her words, “I was consumed with fright and rage. It’s a terrible feeling — like you’re alive but somebody has buried you in a coffin. He had the power. And that made him feel good about himself.” Brutally raped and beaten, Suzette was thrown out of the moving car a few hours later. She gathered courage and called a friend and somehow reached home. Only thought which gave her the strength was — “I am alive and I can see my children”. For three days, Suzette was bedridden. On day four, encouraged by her family, she filed a police complaint. But her fight for justice was extremely tough. There were many terrible days at court. She had very few means. She was called a prostitute, stigmatized, and expelled from her job. Death threats from her attackers. Despite all these odds, Damayanti Sen, the police officer who investigated her case concluded Suzette Jordan story was the truth.
Under Indian law, the identity of a victim of rape cannot be revealed without the individual’s permission. So till June 2013, Suzette Jordan story had been dubbed the ‘Park Street rape’ by the media. When Jordan decided to reveal her identity as a survivor of rape, she said, “Why should I hide my identity when it was not even my fault? I want to fight wide open so that people can see me and see my pain,” she explained. “This is my way of fighting. Besides, I have nothing to be ashamed of. I’m just another woman. A simple woman who loves her family loves her children and will not take a crap.” She pursued happiness with determination. “Just because I have been raped, people feel I have no right to live and I certainly have no right to be happy. I feel as if I am being blamed for being alive. But why shouldn’t I enjoy life?” she would say. Suzette became an iconic figure, advocating for the battle of survivors of sexual violence at various forums with great confidence.
In March 2015, Suzette succumbed to encephalitis. At a memorial meeting organized in Mumbai, dozens of people, even those who had never met her, spoke about Suzette touching their lives. Suzette had said: “If I had chosen to just accept injustice submissively, I would never be the right role model for my daughters.” Even in death, she didn’t back down. On December 10, a Kolkata court held three men guilty of raping Suzette Jordan. She had won. Suzette Jordan story will always be an inspiration for all women fighting against injustice.