Thursday 21 March 2013, by siawi

Suja Jones, an Indian woman, has taken her French husband to court in the city of Bangalore, India, on charges of rape of their then 3 year-old daughter.
She is fighting a lonely battle.
The French authorities provided continued unilateral support to the accused, an employee at the French consulate in Bangalore, leaving the mother of three minor French citizens alone to fend for them. 
The French media have given a very biased coverage of this case, based on the allegations of the accused father.
This undeniably added an unnecessary hardship on the already deeply wounded mother and children.

We, the undersigned, express our deep concern at the role and attitude of French authorities in this case, which has in many respects impeded and violated the right of the child to be protected and defended.

On the eve of the trial due to start on March 22, we express our solidarity with the 3 year old victim and support her mother in the defence of the child’s rights.

Background Information :

For a comprehensive account of the role of French authorities as well as local Bangalore police, see Suja Jones’ appeal to the women assembled in New York during the March 2013 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), devoted this year to violence against women.
(URL: http://www.sacw.net/ article3977.html)
This appeal was widely circulated to women’s organisations worldwide during the CSW and beyond.

Several actions were undertaken to demand from France a more ethical attitude in this case :

President Hollande during his February 2013 visit to New Delhi was requested to grant equal treatment to both parties, after his services received the lawyers of the accused at the Elysée Palace.

In a letter dated February 10, 2013, attention of the Minister of Women’s Rights in Paris, France, was drawned to actions of French diplomatic representation in India in support of the accused employee, juxtaposed with a campaign of harassment and slander against the mother. 
The Minister 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 emitted by the accused father from his jail ti teh benefit of the deputee consul, leaving Suja Jones and the three children without means of subsistence ;
  • still retain the passports of the French children of the couple, upon request of the accused father, in blatant disregard for the Indian court’s decision to grant temporary custody to the mother while the case is pending in court ; 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 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.

Demands for clarification on France’s representatives’ wrong doings were also sent to the Ministries of Home Affairs and of Foreign Affairs.

While the Ministry of Women’s Rights and the Ministry of Home Affairs simply ignored the letters and demands for clarification, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained that this was a case of marital dispute, and justified the actions taken by France’s representatives in India.

Taken to task by several individuals and women’s organisations in France, the French Consular authorities now undertake to prove their concern for the very children they deprived of means of subsistance and of identity documents, by further harassing their mother, for instance by sending her surprise visits by the Child Protection services, as if she were the accused in the case.

Meanwhile, the French media, ignoring early medical reports and other experts’ testimonies, have presented a totally one sided picture of the case, just highlighting the point of view of the accused.
And men’s rights groups in India are at the forefront of supporting the accused father.

On February 23, 2013 an ad hoc support committee was formed, which called on French women organisations to openly question the role of France in this case.
The ad-hoc support committee also provided full information on the case to the Special UN Rapporteur on Violence Against women and to members of the Indian delegation to the CSW.

Meanwhile, in Bangalore, it seems that pressure was put on medical doctors to revise their earlier conclusions on the reality of the rape, and on witnesses to withdraw their testimonies. 
Moreover, it seems that some evidence has gone missing from the file, including police record of the first interrogation of the child. 
DNA swabs taken on the abused child on the day of the last rape incident are now missing : DNA tests produced before the court do not carry either the DNA of the father or that of the child. 
The accused father filed for his immediate release, stating that the results of DNA tests demonstrate that he is not implicated in the crime ; he also filed for custody of the children.

In wake of numerous wrongdoings and irregularities, as well as the absence of adequate and sufficient reaction from French authorities,

we call on women and human rights organisations to join us and widely support our solidarity campaign for justice for Suja Jones and Child X.

initiated by:

organisations:

  • Secularism Is A Women’s Issue (siawi.org)
  • Espace Femmes International (EFI)
  • Women’s Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights (WICUR)
  • Groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal
  • South Asia Citizens Web (sacw.net)
  • Praja Rajakiya Vedike (www.facebook.com/prajarajakiya)

individuals:

  • Marieme Helie Lucas, Algeria / France
  • Rina Nissim, Switzerland
  • Lalia Ducos, Algeria / France
  • Harsh Kapoor
  • Fatou Sow, sociologue, présidente du groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal
  • Codou Bop, journaliste, coordonnatrice du groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal

We request all to endorse and sign our call for solidarity athttp://www.ipetitions.com/petition/solidaritywithsujajones/

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