Suzette Jordan’s name will remain cast in our memories as the woman who died after she was raped in Kolkata at the busy Park Street earlier this year on February 5, 2012. This mother of two was raped at gunpoint when she decided to go out for drinks one evening. People claimed she ‘dared’ to go out and many criticised her for ‘drinking out.’ She was blamed for her own rape and the turnout of events that night.
Not only was she intimidated by the policemen who asked her personal and inappropriate questions, she was also called ‘a prostitute’ by many. Her daughters at school had to face differential behaviour from their peers and educators. Popular ‘Ginger’ restaurant in Kolkata banned her entry into the property for the fact that she was a rape victim. Her story grabbed headlines.
Even Trinamool Congress MP Kakuli Ghosh Dastidar, a woman herself issued a statement saying that this particular incident of rape was ‘”actually a sex deal gone wrong.” Suzette finally came out of the closet in 2013, 15 months after the incident, spelling out the brutality of the incident that happened with her.
While the society expects a woman to respond to such situations with fear and silence, Suzette chose to break this culture of victim blaming that was affecting not only her own life, but also the lives of other women with similar stories, and so many other people who were associated with her. It was these experiences as a rape victim in India that turned her into a feminist and women’s rights activist. She dedicated her life to the cause. Suzette died earlier this year, in March 2015, succumbing to Meningitis. She was 40.
Finally, years after the incident took place and months after the victim’s death, the accused men Nasir Khan, Ruman Khan and Sumit Bajaj were convicted for their crime. The quantum of punishment will be announced on Friday, 13th December 2015. Two more accused men are still on the run, according to the Indian Express.
Women have been socialized to be ashamed of their body, to keep it hidden at all times. This has been on for so many generations, that women have started believing these ideals of control. They believe that their body is a precious gem that needs to be saved for that special one, no matter how many special (and hence not so special) ones he has been with. A higher sense of self is needed, where women’s self- actualization comes from their own thoughts and emotions, just like Suzette, and not from guided perceptions of identity.