Protests in India after Delhi gang-rape victim dies

 

Sanjoy Majumder reports from a protest in Delhi

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Thousands of people have joined peaceful protests in India's capital, Delhi, following the death of a woman who was gang-raped in the city.

The 23-year old woman, who has not been identified, died of her injuries on Saturday in Singapore, where she had been taken for specialist treatment.

Six men arrested in connection with the rape have now been charged with murder.

The attack on 16 December triggered violent public protests over attitudes towards women in India.

Two police officers have already been suspended.

The woman's body will be flown back to India for what is expected to be a private funeral.

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Clearly, many Indian women face threats to life at every stage - violence, inadequate healthcare, inequality, neglect, bad diet, lack of attention to personal health and well-being”

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On Saturday, police sealed off large parts of central Delhi close to government buildings, closed down a number of metro railway stations and asked people not to travel into the city.

Hundreds of armed police and riot troops are on duty and Delhi's police commissioner Neeraj Kumar has called on the public to remain calm.

Gatherings of more than five people have been banned in the city centre.

But some 4,000 people have gathered at the Jantar Mantar observatory, one of the areas of the city where protests are permitted, said the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in the city.

A large group staged a silent protest march through Delhi.

One protester, Poonam Kaushik, blamed the attack on "the government's inefficiency to ensure safety of women in Delhi" and said the woman's death would generate "even more anger".

One banner on display told politicians: "We don't want your condolences! We don't want your fake sentiments! We demand immediate action to strengthen the laws against sexual violence."

Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit - who has described the death as a "shameful moment" for the country - arrived to speak to the protesters but was shouted down.

Protests have also been held in other cities, including Calcutta, Bangalore and Mumbai.

There has also been an angry reaction in the Indian media, with one editorial in the Times of India calling for wider changes in society and an awareness that as well as attacks on the street, there are "a thousand unheard voices" of women who face sexual violence at home.

Protest in Delhi, India (29 Dec 2012)

Our correspondent says that over the past two weeks, the anonymous woman has became a symbol of a much larger cause than her own, with protesters focusing on the wider issue of how women are treated in India.

Even after her funeral, the sentiment will continue, he adds, with the public pushing the government to take steps to make people feel more confident about the way women are treated.

'Constructive action'

The Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore said the woman "passed away peacefully" early on Saturday with her family by her side.

Hospital chief executive Kelvin Loh said she had been in "an extremely critical condition" since arriving there, and had suffered severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain.

The Indian home minister said the government had decided to send the woman abroad for treatment on the recommendation of her doctors.

India's Home Affairs minister, Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh, said he was "heartbroken" by her death.

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We need to repent. And repentance would not be in hanging the accused or castrating them. Repentance will be in ensuring that no-one else goes through what she had to”

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"I can only assure the family that the government will take whatever steps are needed to ensure that her killers get the harshest punishment in the quickest of time," he said.

"The government will work overtime to try and bring about laws and steps that will ensure that no other person, no other citizen of this country, has to go through or undergo the same kind of trauma."

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "very saddened" by the woman's death, and that the angry public reaction was "perfectly understandable".

"It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channel these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action," he said in a statement.

He called on politicians and the public to set aside "narrow sectional interest" and work together to make India "a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in".

The woman - a medical student - and her friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus in the Munirka area of Delhi, intending to travel to Dwarka in the south-west of the city.

Police said she was raped for nearly an hour, and both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars, then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

The assault sparked angry protests about the general conditions for women in India, and about what is seen as an inadequate police response to rape allegations.

India's High Commissioner to Singapore, TCA Raghavan: "We extend our condolences to the family"

Officials have since announced a series of measures intended to make Delhi safer for women.

These include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains.

The government has also said that it will post the photos, names and addresses of convicted rapists on official websites to shame them.

It has set up two committees - one looking into speeding up trials of cases involving sexual assaults on women, and the other to examine the lapses that might have led to the incident in Delhi.

But the protesters say the government's pledge to seek life sentences for the attackers is not enough - many are calling for the death penalty.

 

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  • Comment number 514.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 513.

    Rape is wrongly categorised in most jurisdictions around the the world...including the UK and Europe. There have been many outrageous decisions and comments made by judges (male) that place rape rape on a par with mugging and pick pocketing. It needs to be seen and named for what it is...violation. Penalties must reflect the brutality of the offence with gang rape automatically receiving life.

  • Comment number 512.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 511.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 510.

    Life imprisonment with hard labour would even sound mild for those culprits. This crime appears like a pre-planned group assault / gang rape resulting in a premeditated 1st degree murder.
    'Shipping' a gravely ill patient to Singapore for further treatment seems more in terms of a political decision than a medical one. Culprits link with a politician/s should be investigated.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 509.

    503 addressing porn from the west
    it not porns fault that these animal raped a women to death put the guillt of the crime on some thing else is wrong they did the act they should be ........
    the culture that says a women is less than a man is wrong if person does a act he is reponsable not some one else

  • Comment number 508.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 507.

    502. Andrew

    460: Please explain the relevance of a cousin of a perpetrator of rape winning the X-factor. Does being the man's cousin make him responsible?
    --
    It was just to remember people of whom I mentioned.

    OTOH, if Indians/some religions/males can be held responsible for 6 rapists crime, then is it too much to associate some shame to someone for his cousin's repulsive act?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 506.

    Indian leaders are playing emotional games with their citizenry. Top leaders are saying that her death won't go in vain, and she was the 'daughter of India'. Utter distraction from their failure to prevent such heinous crimes at first place, lack of security, governance failure. Playing the victim, when they are equally responsible, is not going to help our corrupt & graceless polity in India!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 505.

    Aaaaaahh India - a country where recently a rape victim committed suicide when the police told her to marry her rapist. The problem runs deep...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 504.

    This is so heartbreaking that a young woman could be raped to death by a violent gang of men and boys on public transport. Jimmy Savile hid behind his public persona to rape young girls in this country, though he was a part of a shadowy gang too. Seems all kinds of people can fall way below the level of beasts anywhere and everywhere in this world.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 503.

    No one is addressing the spread and free availability of porn from the west that arouses the worst of young men in a basically repressed society. The dehumanizing of women into sex objects in these videos brings out the beast in uneducated, frustrated and hopeless youth everywhere, and especially in India, I believe.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 502.

    460: Please explain the relevance of a cousin of a perpetrator of rape winning the X-factor. Does being the man's cousin make him responsible?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 501.

    500. thelostdot

    Exactly !! What was wrong with exchange we had to upset the moderators ?

    Let me be more moderator-friendly:
    - no religion condones rape,
    - too much tolerance is shown to gangs in UK regardless of their ethnicities,
    - we in UK, as a society, forgive/forget too quickly rapists/victims.

    By the way, one of the aforementioned rapists got out only after 5 years.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 500.

    Oh, dear the moderator is off again. Unfortunately you can hardly debate something when half your arguments, even when carefully put are deleted. Unfortunately in the circumstances it means I cannot modify my views in any meaningful way. My only regret is that it means that it makes it unlikely the things can much improve for victims. My own views are probably made more decisive!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 499.

    1984 Sikh genocide where 4000 Sikhs were innocently massacred, raped, burnt alive by India's own people, Indian army & police force, the whole world stood by & did nothing. 20 years on India has failed to deliver justice. Talk to an indian about 1984 & they will deny any knowledge of it ever happened. Welcome to the true face of undemocratic India. it's a complete joke!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 498.

    @426.abusidra

    Are you really suggesting Islam as a way to protect womens rights?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 497.

    It seems simple enough to not hire buses or any kind of vehicle with curtains or tinted windows, Loss of revenue will always force change. The back story will be amazing I am sure. One step citizens could take is to get some rocks and start busting out the windows on these vehicles. I do not advocate violence, but if it was my sister or wife or GF raped and killed there would be repercussions

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 496.

    This a very sad day and disgusting crime
    I for 1 am glad I do not live in Delhi and what man would try to make excuses for the crime or put any part of this crime on the woman she was the victim of animals not men not humans.
    If I had any daughter and lived there I would move any place would better than there

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 495.

    So sad for the poor women involved in sexual violence in india

    People may claim this does not reflect the wider indian society, but I fear it does, the amount of 'eve teasing', groping, their attitude and just down right creepy behaviour seems rife among indian men as many visitors and western women visitors will tell you. Something needs to change in the entire male indian culture.

 

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