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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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 294.

    I know India well and have seen a deterioration in its social fabric in the last 20 years.

    Sexual violence is a huge problem there, fed by social pathologies in how women are treated generally, and also fed by an increasingly vulgar & violent Bollywood culture that exploits female sexuality, & by political corruption (politicians' criminal children act with impunity).

    May the victim RIP.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 293.

    I hope similar protests occur in other countries.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 292.

    We all need to calm down a bit when villifying India, as Great Britain has a woefully inadequate conviction rate for rapists too - about 5% of REPORTED rapes end with the perpetrator being found guilty and punished, and not all rapes are reported to the police. We all need to examine our attitudes to women's safety and the right not to be raped.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 291.

    RIP, the victim of most horrific crime known to 'man'.

  • Comment number 290.

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

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 289.

    Perhaps instead of appealing for calm, the government should commit to actually doing something about the prevailing conditions with a strict timetable for prompt implementation.

    282. Sameer Verma "hopefully the other world is not as bad as ours"

    A fine sentiment but the problem with that is that there is no other world and this woman was subjected to a disgusting assault in this the only world.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 288.

    To appalling to comprehend. The world is watching you India and not just for the foreseeable future.....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 287.

    While it is for India to fix its obscene problems, the rest of us can help with incentives. Britain might begin by not insisting on providing financial aid to that country, as successive governments have insisted on doing for years.

  • rate this
    -21

    Comment number 286.

    Ideally bring back EARLY MARRIAGES in Urban India to cut down Eve Teasing.Ideally India will do better not to go to the other extreme of Teenage pregnancies,one night stands, broken marriages, kids unhappy about remarrying parents,serial online datings even past 60s,lonely lifes n material lifes,Thai brides, BDSM rapes etc all in the name of Individual Freedom n Equality.

  • Comment number 285.

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

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 284.

    It should have been a part of this article. As that defines the motive of that individual and not the country.

    In no way i am defending my country against the lack of order, but i am confident in my fellow citizens that they are more vigil, willing and stronger than ever before to make those necessary social and political amendments.

    RIP Amanat.

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 283.

    What a very sad waste of a young life. Perhaps the Indian authorities will now learn some lessons and protect women and promote women's rights and freedoms. After-all India is supposed to be the world's largest democracy.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 282.

    This kind of incident shows how low some people can stoop.Patriarchy is to be blamed,we have to change the outlook towards women.
    Female foeticide,child abuse,eve teasing,dowry deaths shows the real face of how we treat our women.Women are to be respected and commodification of women needs to be stopped.RIP Damini hopefully the other world is not as bad as ours.God bless you.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 281.

    It is distressing to learn about the rape , torture and the subsequent death of this latest rape victim in New Delhi. I think the culprits must have high level connections, otherwise they would not dare to do this. The culprtis should be given death sentence and tjhis should be done publicly to act as a deterrant in future.Mahatma Gandhi said true freedom is when a woman walks home safely.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 280.

    I'm very sorry for the victim and family members. It’s high time for the people of India to change their mindset toward women. Being an Indian we worship Women as Goddess in India and when we see this type of crime against womwn we should feel very shame.
    Let us not waste this girl’s death and make something better in society by constructive protest and policy.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 279.

    270.frozenwaste
    Were there no other passengers to stop it

    Having read some of the previous posts those in the area are too frightened to intervene for fear of association, apathy by law enforcement anyway and women who are attacked are led to believe they are responsible and should be ashamed

    There is a long way to go it seems.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 278.

    It can be safely draw the conclusion that it's not the democracy ,but the rule of law make our society safe and peace. And that makes China the strongest country in asia

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 277.

    The bus drove around for an HOUR while they tortured her. What on earth was the driver doing ? He should be prosecuted as well.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 276.

    @268.Shib SenChaudhury

    I agree with almost everything you say, but it should not just be women protesting. Men need to publicly and loudly reject all forms of violence against women, and they need to do it often. Journalists, politicians, sportsmen, business leaders, community leaders. It is OUR problem, women cannot prevent rape on their own.

  • Comment number 275.

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

 

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