THE WOMAN WHO DEMANDED A NAME
In the aftermath of that cold and horrific night in Delhi this December, if there was one sentence that could encapsulate the rage, the pain and incredible frustration that drove women out to the streets, it would be this — “My name is Suzette Jordan.”
One year ago, in February, Jordan had been a 38-year-old single mother of two daughters, on her way home from a club with a friend. At the end of that car ride, where she was held down by four other waiting men and gang-raped, Jordan no longer had an identity. She had become “the Park Street Rape Victim”. Unlike thousands of women in India who suffer abuse silently, Jordan, who had informed both the police and local media of what happened, reconstructed the crime with her back facing cameras — in the hope that it would spur the law-enforcing machinery into action. Instead, it incited a bizarre circus of victim blame that caused Jordan and her family to go into hiding. Policemen laughed. Kolkata CM Mamata Banerjee called Jordan a liar trying to defame the ruling party. Ministers asked — what kind of mother would be out at night in a discotheque? Angry mobs collected outside her home, destroying property, threatening further physical harm at a time when she was at her most brutalized — “It drove me crazy, wondering what the hell they did to me while I was unconscious. I was in so much pain. I couldn’t move my body.”
Undeterred by the vicious hostility that surrounded her , Jordan began working with the rape rehabilitation NGO Swayam, spearheading a helpline called Survivors for Victims of Social Injustice. When she heard about the gang-rape of a 23 year old student in New Delhi, Jordan began to wonder if she would have to live as ‘a blurred out picture’ for the rest of her life. A few months later, when another university student in Barasat was gang-raped and murdered; she realized she could no longer hide her identity and internalize shame. “I am Suzette Jordan” — with those words, the picture of an entire world sharpened into focus.