Suzette Jordan, the Kolkata-based survivor of a brutal gang rape, died of multiple organ failure caused due meningoencephalitis, at a hospital in Kolkata on Friday, March 13.
She was known for her fight to break out of her tag of “Park Street Rape Victim” and be recognized as Suzette Jordan instead.
Jordan was raped in a moving car in Park Street area on February 6, 2012, by five young men who picked her up from outside a pub. The incident triggered nationwide outrage as the local administration initially termed it as “a fabricated case to malign authorities.” While three of the accused are behind bars, two others, including the prime accused, are still at large, according to a Press Trust of India report.
Jordan, unlike a lot of women in India who have suffered abuse silently, decided to speak up.
She appeared on various news channels, with her face blurred out, and recounted her incident in the hope that her abusers could be caught swiftly. Instead, she faced a backlash from both the police and the Kolkata government. The state’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, called her a “liar trying to defame the government”.
“My name is Suzette Jordan and I don’t want to be known any longer as the victim of Calcutta’s Park Street rape,” she said 16 months after her incident. “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!” she told BBC in an interview in July 2013.
Despite the open hostility, Jordan started working with a rape -rehabilitation NGO called Swayam. She worked extensively with a helpline called Survivors for Victims of Social Injustice to help other survivors of physical abuse.
In a conversation with BOOM on #IndiaHangOut, Jordan said, “I want other women to speak up too. When they reach out, they know that a strong support that they can rely on. This battle that we are fighting against sexual abuse in India is not a losing one. They are thousands of other women, like me, who are making their voices heard.”
Jordan also talked about how one aspect of dealing with issues of physical abuse and rape in India is sensitizing people. “The victimization of people who have suffered any kind of social injustice has to stop. They are survivors. We just need to be humane to be one another. The existing mindsets of people can be changed through protests and debates,” she asserted.