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France - India: Letter from Suja Jones to women’s organisations at CSW in New York

16 March 2013

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Full text of a letter from an Indian mother sent to women’s rights groups at the 57th session of the UN commission on the Status of Women which met at at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 4 to 15 March 2013.

My name is Suja Jones Mazurier. I am an Indian citizen. My husband, Mr. Pascal Mazurier is French and has been employed with the French Ministry of External Affairs since 2001. We are married for 11 years now and we have three children together. I have followed my husband to all the countries he has been posted in including France, Bangladesh and Chad (there were two civil wars during our stay there). Since the year 2008, we are based out of the city of Bangalore, India while he worked at the French Consulate.
My daughter is now 4 years old. I am the defender of her rights and am trying against all odds to protect her from a childhood of sexual abuse. The circumstances occasioning our case being presented here before you all are set forth as under in gist.

In the month of June, 2012 I took my three year old daughter to a gynaecologist, who also happens to be a member of Enfold Proactive Health Trust (an organization which has a lot of experience in the field of child sexual abuse) following my daughter’s complaints of pain in her genital areas. The said doctor after speaking to my daughter for over an hour in my presence informed me that my daughter was being sexually abused by my husband and her father. Needless to say, not only was the news devastating to me as a mother but I was shocked to discover that the perpetrator behind a crime so heinous was my own husband, who I had trusted and loved for so many years. In hindsight, my daughter had been trying to communicate with me that her father was hurting her in her genital areas from the time she was barely two years of age and I was pregnant with our third child.

Even as I struggled to come to terms with the news that is every mother’s nightmare, on the 13th of June, 2012 my husband once again brutally raped and sodomized our child. I immediately called up the doctor from Enfold Trust, who directed me to the Collaborative Child Response Unit at Baptist Hospital, Bangalore where my daughter underwent medical examination and swabs were taken from her vagina and anus for DNA testing. When I was informed by the doctors on the 14th of June, 2012 that the horror that I refused to believe was a fact, I approached the High Grounds Police Station with a complaint.

The response of the Police Authorities however was surprisingly lackadaisical. At first they did not even want to register my complaint. Then, after they finally brought him in for questioning they told me to go stay somewhere else with my children and they would let my husband go back to our appartment! They finally did keep him for further questioning and let him go without making an arrest the next day and I had to take my children and stay at a friend’s house.

The next day the police insisted that my child go through yet another medical examination at a filthy government hospital labour ward with blood on the walls and women in labour around her. . She was subjected to the ’two finger test’ (commonly known as ’virginity test’ involving inserting of two fingers inside the vagina to test the laxity of the vaginal muscle to know whether the person is ’used to sexual intercourse’ and absence of hymen’) My daughter who was barely 3 years 9 months screamed during the ordeal. A summary of this and the harassment by the police is available in the latest Human Rights Watch report on pages 40-41 in the following link:
http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/india0113ForUpload.pdf
Besides subjecting my child to yet another medical examination, particularly traumatic, my daughter was also isolated from me at the police station and interviewed without my presence although the same is contrary to the law laid down by various courts in India. The personnel who spoke to her came to me afterwards and said that my daughter had revealed the sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Yet, they did not record a statement to this affect and the police till today claim that the child has not named the father as the perpetrator.

The police took a highly confrontational stand with me, accusing me of trying to frame my husband. I was questioned like an accused for over 4 hours with video camera and over 7 police officers in the room. At the end of this interrogation, false statements were prepared in my name and signed by the Investigative Officer1.

The Investigative Officer insisted again on questioning my daughter almost 3 months after the act. He asked my daughter if she loves her father or her mother more at least three times. This not only reflects his ignorance of the dynamics of incestuous child sexual abuse and concepts like ‘grooming’ but also places the child in a particularly difficult position where she is asked to choose between her parents. The Investigative Officer then proceeded to touch my daughter on different parts of her body and ask her, “Did your father touch you here? Did your father touch you here? “The whole interview 2lasted only about 25 minutes. He then made a statement 3that the “child loves her father and misses him” and included this in the chargesheet. Furthermore, the Police’s lack of objectivity in this matter is abundantly clear from their decision to endorse the requests for visitation rights for my husband’s parents even though issues concerning family court proceedings are not within the jurisdiction of the police.

Though there were clear indications in the medical reports that there was anal penetration, the police did not charge my husband with Sec 377 (sodomy). They only chargesheeted him with Sec 376(rape). The Baptist Hospital doctors who had initially given clear medical reports that indicated rape and sodomy, were, months later, again questioned by the police. The statement attributed to the doctors but signed by the Investigative Officer contradicts the original reports and clearly attempt to undermine the extent of injury to my daughter caused by the assaults.

The Investigative Officer interrogated the household help 4and attempted to prepare ‘character certificates’ for the accused by getting them to say that they did not think their employer could commit such a crime. This again, is an example of how the police tried to give the accused a clean chit since it is a well-known fact that a paedophile is difficult to identify except by trained mental health professionals. Moreover, the employees of a person are more often than not, likely to support him since they have been earning their livelihood through him. However, both the nanny as well as my husband admit that he did take our child to the room and ‘put her to sleep’.

Certain members of the print press endorsed the stand of the Police Authorities. An organization called CRISP in Bangalore that supports ‘men’s rights’ started supporting the accused and they aggressively started casting aspersions on my character and taking part in devious activities to support his cause. My lifestyle, although perfectly reasonable, was called into question for no reason and focused character assassination exercises were carried out by certain members of the news media against me. Comments made by ‘Men’s Rights Activists’ on several websites were abusive, accusatory, vulgar, defamatory and horrifying in their accusations 5against me. There was even one website with a death threat to me posted as a comment. The trauma inflicted on me by the doubts the police cast on my case and the approach of the media is difficult to express in words and I ask myself is this really how I should be treated when all I seek is justice for my child? Usually in a case of rape the defence builds up a case around the character of the victim. Here, I am the victim’s mother and yet, here too, they are trying to cast aspersions on my character.

If this was the attitude of the Indian authorities, the response of the French authorities has been even more confusing. At the outset, it is proving difficult if not impossible for me to impress upon the French Government that my case is not one of marital conflict, but of a father sexually abusing his own daughter. Notwithstanding, the number of emails and telephone calls 6my lawyers and I have made to the French authorities asserting the specific nature of illegalities my husband committed against my daughter, they have shown an uncanny ability to be in denial about this and pretend the whole issue is a marital conflict between my husband and me instead of seeing that it is a case of child sexual abuse.

Right from the beginning Consular authorities worked ‘unofficially to support my husband’. The then French Consul General contacted the Bangalore Commissioner of Police and asked him not to arrest my husband ‘till the matter of Diplomatic Immunity is sorted out’. When I asked the Consul why he had made that statement since we all knew my husband did not have diplomatic immunity given that his passport was not diplomatic, his reply was, “It was not an official communication from the Consulate, the Indian police should not have listened to me”.
The Deputy Consul approached the Indian police and my husband was then released ‘at the custody of the Deputy Consul of the French Consulate, Bangalore’. There is no legal status to this in France in India . The Deputy Consul’s letter stating that he ‘received custody’ of the accused is one of the documents included in the chargesheet. When I asked the senior police officer present if in all cases of rape the accused was released in this manner, he admitted that this was happening only in this case, since my husband had ‘certain Consular privileges’. What does this term mean and why was it misused? I wish to add here that his ‘Consular Privileges’ were of no use to him in the past when he was caught twice by the traffic police of Bangalore in 2008 and 2010 for rash driving as well as drunken driving. He had to appear before the Magistrate and pay the fine. If for driving violations his consular privileges were not invoked then why were they invoked in a case of rape of a minor? Does that mean that he gets ‘Consular Privileges’ but my daughter, his own child, does not have the right to protection?

On 18-06-12, the French Ambassador at New Delhi called me and asked me if the investigation was impeded because of the lack of clarity on the diplomatic status of my husband. Then, he told me about three times that my husband had certain ‘consular privileges’. I was surprised to repeatedly hear this term being used. I have been married to an employee of the French ministry of External Affairs for the last 11 years and I had never come across this term. When I told him that we absolutely needed to know if my husband had immunity or not, he said that the matter would be settled in twenty four hours. He then told me that a French ‘Commissaire’ would arrive from the embassy on an unofficial basis.

On 19-06-12 the Commissaire, M. Jean-Louis Leccia 7met with my lawyer and myself. He said that his visit was on an unofficial fact-finding mission in Bangalore. He asked where the DNA samples were being sent and told me that he knew the forensic scientists and would speak to them. Before leaving, he also met with senior police officials involved in the case. Why was he given access to professionals working with the case and the officers of law? What was his role?

Two days after the Commissaire’s visit, my husband made two cheque transfers amounting in total to Rs. 430,000 8(equivalent to approximately 6000 euros) to the Deputy Consul thus almost emptying our joint account in India. What was this money used for? This happened two days after my husband was arrested while he was in ‘VIP prison’. How could he give the cheques to the Deputy Consul from behind bars? Were the jail authorities involved? I had raised this question with the French Ambassador and I was told that he could not give an answer. My interrogation and harassment by the Investigative Officer also happened a few days after this money transfer.

Swabs taken from my daughter were tested for DNA and found to contain some other man’s sperm (not my husband’s). But, on testing further, the result showed that the swabs tested were not my daughter’s! What happened to my daughter’s swabs? Who is responsible for switching the swabs? Furthermore, the first set of DNA tests revealed my husband’s sperm on my daughter’s undergarment and bed sheet. The second set of tests reveal that my daughter’s DNA was not present in any of her clothes that were tested!

The Deputy Consul of the French Consulate, Bangalore was informed by the chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) that it was my husband who managed the finances of the family and that I did not have any access to funds. The KSCPCR also recommended that the French government provide financial security to my children and me. Yet, barely a week after, on 21-06-12, the Deputy Consul took part in the money transaction that almost wiped out our joint account in India.

Additionally, the French consulate, instead of facilitating adequate financial and economic security for me and my children, went about lobbying for my husband’s demands that my children learn French9. Furthermore, when I asked the Consul why and how my husband was transferring money out of our joint account while he was in prison he replied, “He can do whatever he wants to with the money. He is the person who is earning the money. “ Finally, I had to change my eldest son’s school because I received no guarantee of financial security. My husband’s salary no longer comes into our joint account in France, so I have had no monthly maintenance for the last 8 months. I am using our savings.

I had handed over my children’s passports to the Consulate on being given assurance 10by the Consul that they would be returned to me after renewal of visa. (My children have French ‘passeports de service’. The French Consulate’s intervention was required for the renewal of the Indian visas in the case of these passports). However, the Consul took into consideration a confidential letter 11from the accused and stated that this is a case of marital conflict. He then refused to return the passports to me and asked me to approach the concerned court to retrieve them.

In most of the court hearings, representatives of the consulate are seen standing by the accused’s side and deliberating with his lawyers while completely ignoring my child’s lawyers and me. During one of the hearings, my husband’s lawyer actually introduced the Consul General to the judge and asked that my children be brought to court since the Consul wanted to see them. This is quite conspicuous when seen in the context of the French Embassy’s assurance of staying neutral. For some reason, even today, my husband states in various documents that he is still currently employed with the French Consulate and continues to falsely state that he is a diplomat.

Most recently while my husband’s lawyers in France found ready access to the French President’s office and found audience with the President’s staff, my lawyers had to work really hard to secure access to the President even though my only request was that they remain neutral. The media houses in France all reported this, presenting only his lawyers’ arguments and quoting him, ‘Henceforth we have one certitude: the fabrication and manipulation of proof by Suja Jones’12. They failed to mention anywhere that it is the State of Karnataka that has charged him with rape taking into account various medical reports by different professionals from different medical institutions and the case is awaiting trial. I am just one of the witnesses in this case. The French media, on being approached by my French lawyers in Paris, refused to publish a single article on my lawyer’s visit at the French President’s office. This attitude of the French media is inconsistent with journalistic ethics as well as the ‘equality’ that is part of the French Republic’s tripartite motto.

The French Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Laurent Fabius has responded to my French lawyers’ letter 13questioning the role of the French Consulate and Embassy in India in support of my husband. His reply 14is a contradiction to the French president’s assurances of ‘neutrality and promise not to intervene into the judicial process in India’ that he gave during his recent trip to India. This letter of Mr. Fabius also reveals various actions taken by the Ministry in support of Pascal’s attempts to send my children 15to France.

My husband, his mother and various agents of the French Ministry of External Affairs have approached various government agencies in India and France in order to try and send my children (who have French nationality) to France (in their words) ‘as France is their own country, they are in a hostage situation in India’.

I have been approached, following these complaints, by two of these agencies and am starting to be monitored by them. They have even interrogated me and want to continue investigating about whether my children need to be taken away from me or not. This, in spite of the fact that I have lodged a complaint with the police against my mother-in-law, as she was aware of her son’s actions.

I now gather that the French Consul General of France has approached the Child Welfare Committee, a body set up under the Juvenile Justice Act to oversee the care and protection of children in need of the same. For reasons best known to the Committee, its members appeared to be hostile although my children are being very well taken care of under me. They are not only doing well at school but are also going for therapy at a renowned government mental health institute. The therapist has noted that my daughter is doing much better today.

Today, I am a single mother taking care of three children. But besides that, I am a scared woman who feels like she is standing alone as the defender of her daughter’s rights in the fight against not just her husband but also against instruments of the state that wish to see what happened to my child swept under the carpet. Today there is even a danger that my children be removed from my custody and sent to France. My husband is still accused, today he is officially charged with rape by the State of Karnataka. Yet, his mother has written to various government agencies and politicians in France and India trying to take away custody of my children in violation of the Hon’ble Family Court’s (Bangalore) order. Is the fact that I am Indian and my children French, make all these violations and underhand dealings by various individuals and authorities of France seem justified?

Every time I attempt to confront the aforesaid authorities, both French and Indian, regarding their attitude and approach in my child’s case, they resort to technicality and need for following procedures. Yet beyond the rhetoric in such statements, I fear, there lies a dark desire to cover up what my husband did to my daughter. The motives for such an attitude is unknown but what I do know is that between a small child who was subjected to a brutal sexual assault and a grown man who has been charged with the said crime, the authorities, both French and Indian, seem inclined to listen to the latter.

Human Rights are not just the generosity of the states, but the birth right of every citizen. My daughter and I have the right to seek justice and we will persist in our efforts no matter what the adversities and the difficulties are. But my daughter’s trust was betrayed by the man who was supposed to protect her, her own father. Had either the French authorities or the Indian authorities followed the letter and spirit of the law and lent a supportive stand to my daughter and me, perhaps my daughter might have learnt to trust the world. But now not only has she to deal with the reality of her own father sexually abusing her, but also come to terms with how governments and the world around would rather side with the perpetrator than the victim. As her mother I shudder to think of what consequences these events will have on the normal growth of my child.

What surprises me is that my husband’s attempts to throw the investigation off track by injecting unrelated issues of men’s rights and marital conflict into a case that starts and ends with the act of him sexually abusing his 3 year old daughter; seems to be working. Not only has he successfully turned the authorities and the press of both France and India against me, through sustained manipulation and intimidation; but now he wishes to take back our children to France with him. Respectfully, I implore everyone to not let this happen and to defend the right of my children to be protected from further abuse.

While I am certain that my husband has sexually abused our daughter repeatedly, I am mindful of the legal processes in place to deal with such issues. Therefore, all that I ask is that a fair trial be allowed to happen in a lawful manner so as to determine my husband’s guilt in the matter. I do worry about the future because we do not even receive a monthly income yet. When I think about how hostile the police and the other statutory authorities were with me, I am scared. When I think of how evidence has been manipulated I am terrified. I am paying a high price for defending the basic rights of my children.

Children are precious. It is not enough to demand new laws in the protection of women and children if the implementation process is so blatantly corrupt, prejudiced and insensitive. This case should highlight the glaring deficiencies in the manner in which the Indian authorities and French authorities have acted so far. What is over is over, no doubt. But even if one child can be saved the trouble of the nature my child and I have went through, there will be some meaning from all of this. I am calling on you who are now in New York to attend the UN Commission on the Status of Women :

  • to request the representatives of France to put an end to their exclusive support to a man who is actually charged by the government of Karnataka for rape and to let the due process of law take place; to stop harassing me as if I were the accused while my only crime is to be defending my daughter’s right to be protected against further abuse; to enquire about the numerous wrong doings of French representatives in India.
  • to request the Indian authorities to place the interest of the child first, to enquire into the many changes in testimonies and findings that took place during the past few months
  • to alert women’s organisations and networks in your countries, to monitor the trial, and to extend your protection to a child who has already suffered a lot.

Thank you,

Suja Jones