Petition by women and human rights organizations calls for support and justice for Suja Jones, who has taken her French husband to court on charges of raping their then 3-year-old daughter
By Team FI
An international group of women and human rights organizations have put together a petition to ensure justice for Indian national Suja Jones who has taken her husband to court on charges of sexually abusing their 3-year-old daughter. Jones, who resides in Bangalore, has been married to a French national for 11 years.
Jones came to know of the alleged abuse in June 2012 after a visit to a gynaecologist, when her daughter complained of pain in her genital areas. It has been a long battle since then what with the French authorities supporting her husband Pascal Mazurier who works for the Ministry of External Affairs and is posted at their consulate in Bangalore. The trial against Mazurier began on Saturday March 23.
Activists allege that the French authorities continue support to the accused leaving the mother to fend for their three minor children who are French citizens. They are demanding a more ethical attitude from French authorities. President Francois Hollande, during his February 2013 visit to New Delhi, was requested to grant equal treatment to both parties.
In a letter dated February 10, 2013, the Minister of Women’s Rights in Paris, France, was made aware of the following actions by senior French officials in India, who
• helped empty the joint account of the couple by cashing cheques issued by the accused from jail in the name of the deputy consul, leaving Suja Jones and the children without means of subsistence;
• retained the passports of the children, upon request of the accused, in blatant disregard of the Indian court’s decision to grant temporary custody to the mother while the case is pending; this also contravenes the obligation under French law for every French citizen to carry identity documents;
• stood by the father in court while ignoring the presence of the mother and her lawyers ;
• pretend that this is a marital dispute and not a rape case, although no divorce case has been filed till date;
• did not respond positively to any of the requests by the mother for financial and legal help.
Meanwhile, the French media, ignoring early medical reports and experts’ testimonies, have presented a one-sided picture of the case, highlighting just the point of view of the accused. Men’s rights groups in India are at the forefront of supporting the accused.
The petition further states that demands for clarification on France’s representatives’ wrong-doings were sent to officials in France. While the Ministry of Women’s Rights and the Ministry of Home Affairs ignored the demands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs justified the actions of France’s representatives in India and maintained that this was a case of marital dispute.
On February 23, 2013, an ad hoc support committee was formed. It called on French women’s organisations to openly question the role of France in this case. The committee also presented its case to the Special UN Rapporteur on violence against women and to members of the Indian delegation in the Commission on the Status of Women.
Activists have voiced deep concern over news reports that doctors were prevailed upon to revise their original conclusions and witnesses to withdraw their testimonies. Some evidence from the first interrogation of the child is missing.
On Thursday, President Hollande’s Counsellor for Asia-Pacific, Christian Lechervy, in a press release, stated that representatives of the French consulate in Bangalore will not be present with the accused during court hearings.
Featured illustration courtesy: Sarah Gamea