Jennipha-Lauren Nielsen talks to the American Bazaar on her difficult journey to find justice in India.
Pasadena, California,-based Jennipha-Lauren Nielsen recently posted a now-viral video slamming the corrupt criminal justice system in India for granting bail to a man convicted and sentenced for sexually molesting her back in 2013.
Nielsen, who is a human rights and gender equality activist, also expressed her anger toward the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, accusing the mission of making it tougher for her to seek justice by asking her to get various documents notarized in Sacramento, California, and making it impossible for her to comply with court deadlines.
In an angry video she posted standing outside the Indian consulate, Nielsen can be heard saying: “India’s incredible corruption and lack of support for women that are attacked is continuing. They refuse to help me, yet they say that they want to stop the violence against women in their own country… They want me to spend thousands of dollars to travel to the state of California on my own money because they have let a convicted criminal out on bail. We don’t give bail to convicted criminals.”
As Nielsen’s video went viral, several Bollywood celebs took note of it and began retweeting it.
The Indian Consulate in San Francisco has since then posted a video supporting her. The video says, “Our deepest sympathies and our support are with you. As you know, all attestations were provided on the same day (Tuesday) after you spoke to the Consulate officials and we waived the requirements of The Hague Convention that requires apostilling (verification) of legal documents. We hope that you obtain the justice you seek and deserve at the earliest.”
Talking to the American Bazaar on a phone from California, Neilsen said, “I fought 5 years for my case and he (the convict) served only five months in jail. He got bail for around $530, the cost of a pair of high end shoes. There is no justice.”
She continued, “(Even after) sacrificing so much time and money, it is the administrative injustice against women that makes justice impossible.”
Neilson said she is going broke fighting the case when it should have been India’s responsibility to get her justice, instead of she having to pay from her own pocket.
“I had to hire my own lawyer in India, because the prosecutor provided to me would never talk to me,” she said. “In fact, I would see him chatting with the defense lawyer.”
Nielsen said she had to travel to India to testify and she did all of it only to make sure that the accused gets punishes. “I have already paid more that 1,200k for my lawyer, plus airfare, expedited visa and over a week of stay in India. (I have spent) over $5,000 and still counting and I am yet to see justice,” she said.
On the consulate’s response to her video, she said, “Well, the embassy says that they waived the requirements of the Hague Convention for me.”
In a subsequent email, Nielsen said that the application of the Hague convention was “even more troubling.” She added: “They never once mentioned to “Hague Convention” during my visit and it was being incorrectly applied to my request. The convention applies to the verification of foreign government public documents. For example, marriage certificates, death certificates, birth certificates, high school and college diplomas. This was a document from my attorney in India who needed a representative of the India government to bear witness as I signed it. This document did not originate in the USA, nor did it have any tie to a United States government agency, or department. In fact, the women handling my document was debating where to tear apart the 5 document now notarized and bill me for 10 documents. If she had separated them and tampered with the stapled notary sheet, it would have voided completely, after she just had me go and spent $270 for this unrequited notary.”
Recalling her horror, which led to the recent sequence of events, she said, “A few days ago, I got a call from my lawyer in India that the accused has been granted bail. I was recovering from an accident as I was thrown off a horse recently and was in no state to walk, leave alone travel. I waited a week before I could go fly to the San Francisco consulate. I was in a bad shape and they could see me, still they wanted me to run around blocks getting various papers notarized.”
It has been a harrowing experience all through following on the case, said Neilson.
Back in 2013, Nielsen was living in Delhi’s Hauz Khas area when she was sexually assaulted by a man named Rajiv Panwar. Nielsen was living as a tenant in his house, along with her Indian husband. In February 2019, a Delhi court held Panwar guilty and was sentenced to seven-year imprisonment. However, he was granted bail on July 5 just five months after he was jailed.
(This post has been updated.)