US bravery award for Delhi rape victim

image captionThe incident caused widespread outrage in India

The US State Department has awarded one of its 2013 International Women of Courage Awards to the 23-year-old woman who died after being gang-raped in the Indian capital, Delhi.

The woman, who cannot be named, and a male friend were attacked on a bus in Delhi on 16 December. She died two weeks later in a hospital in Singapore.

The case shocked India and prompted a debate about the treatment of women.

The award will be presented posthumously on Friday.

In a statement on Monday, the State Department said the woman - who has become known as Nirbhaya, meaning "Fearless" - had "become the foundation of a popular movement to end violence against women in India".

"For millions of Indian women, her personal ordeal, perseverance to fight for justice, and her family's continued bravery is helping to lift the stigma and vulnerability that drive violence against women," it said.

She had "bravely recorded two police statements while in the hospital, repeatedly called for justice against the six attackers, and stated her will to survive to see justice done.

"In the wake of her death just two weeks after the attack, India's active civil society began advocating heavily for legislation and social programmes to stem gender-based violence in all its forms and to ensure higher rape conviction rates and gender-sensitive law enforcement and justice systems.

"Thanks to these efforts, the Indian government has begun to take action to follow through on those demands."

The woman died of her injuries in a hospital in Singapore two weeks after the attack, which triggered widespread anger about the treatment of women in India.

Five men are being tried in Delhi in connection with the attack. A sixth suspect is being tried in a juvenile court. They deny the charges.

A commission under ex-chief justice JS Verma was appointed to examine the country's laws on sex crimes, issuing its report on 23 January.

The government approved many of the recommendations, paving the way for raising the penalty for gang rape to life.

But they went beyond the panel's recommendations and suggested the death sentence in rape cases where the victim dies or slips into a coma.

The US awards will be presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, at a ceremony attended by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Among the other nine women receiving the award are Tibetan blogger and activists Tsering Woeser, Russian journalist and rights activists Elena Milashina and Razan Zeitunah, a Syrian human rights lawyer who founded the Local Coordination Committees which has documented casualties and right violations throughout the country's conflict.