India grieves over gang rape victim

2012-12-29 22:48

New Delhi - India was engulfed by a mass outpouring of grief and anger on Saturday for the victim of a gang-rape as her body was flown out of Singapore hours after she died in a hospital of her horrific injuries.

As police said the six accused of murdering the 23-year-old could face the death penalty, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led appeals for calm to prevent a repeat of the sometimes violent protests that followed the December 16 assault.

Thousands took part in fresh demonstrations but they passed off peacefully as mourners vowed the medical student's killing would serve as a tipping point for how the nation deals with violence against women.

The victim's body was prepared in a funeral parlour in Singapore, before the coffin began its journey back to India with her parents who were at her bedside when she was pronounced dead at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital before dawn.

The plane carrying the gold-coloured coffin took off from Singapore's Changi Airport shortly after midnight, India's envoy in the city state told AFP, and was expected to reach Delhi before dawn.

No longer suffering in silence

Protesters who gathered in the Jantar Mantar thoroughfare in central Delhi, scene of the largest protest, said the unnamed student's death was a wake-up call for a country in denial about the levels of violence that women face.

The numbers swelled throughout the day and into the evening, with some 5 000 taking part in a candlelit vigil after nightfall despite near freezing temperatures.

Bela Rana, who was among the protestors, said the outrage after the attack represented a sea change and women were no longer prepared to suffer in silence.

"We are aware that this is not the first case, nor will it be the last case of gang-rape in India, but it is clear that we will not tolerate sex crimes anymore," said Rana, a Delhi-based lawyer.

Delhi minister heckled

After previous protests had been broken up by riot police, Saturday's passed off peacefully.

However when the chief minister of New Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, tried to join the crowds she was roundly heckled and quickly withdrew.

Some of the protesters, who also gathered in outlying areas of the capital, carried banners that read "Hang the Rapist", accompanied by a picture of a noose.

While six men who had already been arrested have yet to be formally charged, they are now accused of murder.

"We have booked all the six accused under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. It is a non-bailable offence which carries the death sentence," police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat told AFP.

Dharmendra Kumar, one of Delhi's most senior police officers, said formal charges were expected to be filed by January 3.

The police have been heavily criticised for their hardline tactics in trying to quash the protests, including the frequent use of teargas and water cannon.

Gang-rapes are a daily occurrence in India and many go unreported by victims who have little faith in an often painfully slow justice system and are deterred by the response they can receive from male police officers.

Desire for change

But the particularly savage nature of the attack in Delhi has brought simmering anger to a boiling point and prompted the government to promise better security for women and harsher sentences for sex crimes.

After boarding a bus on December 16, the student was attacked by the men who took turns raping her and assaulted her with an iron bar before throwing her and her male companion off the moving vehicle.

"We have already seen the emotions and energies this incident has generated," said Singh.

"These are perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change."

Shah Rukh Khan, the most famous actor in Bollywood, tweeted that the victim had forced India to confront a shameful reality.

"We couldn't save u but wot a big voice u have[sic]... That voice is telling us that rape is not an aberration, not a mistake," he wrote.

"Rape embodies sexuality as our culture & society has defined it. I am so sorry that I am a part of this society and culture."

After the death was announced in Singapore, the Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan spoke of the ordeal endured by the family of the victim, who hail from a rural part of Uttar Pradesh state.

"They have repeatedly asked me to say how inspired they are by the many messages of support and condolences they have received," he said.

"This reinforces their view that the death of their child will lead to a better future for all women in India and in Delhi."

  • sheik.mohammad.378 - 2012-12-29 23:19

    India sounds as backward as South Africa, now I understand Zuma's choice of friends.

      vernon.samuel.7 - 2012-12-29 23:55

      I don't think that it is a matter of being backward. Where there are humans, there will always be crime and violence. Every country on the planet is plagued by such atrocities. It is good to see a country like India finally try to take a stand against it. They could do with our support right now - not biased criticism.

  • Kirshia Diya Naidoo - 2012-12-29 23:23

    they should be punished severely and then hung in public

  • Mary Milne Archibald - 2012-12-29 23:32

    May her soul find peace. I hope that her death brings about change in India and here in regard to the value of a Woman's life.

  • amanda.strydom.5 - 2012-12-30 00:11

    I agree with Jamba. Hang them in the sun so the leaders can see how the world feels about this sic deed . Hang them hang all rapists!Hang them!! Sic how governments turn a blind eye.

      mahlodidavid.morudu - 2012-12-30 00:35

      Let them die they dont deserve to live under the sun.

  • mfanah.radebe - 2012-12-30 03:36

    ehh could mac

  • willie.s.venter.7 - 2012-12-30 05:53

    Rape is the most powerfull crime against woman,its sad that woman have been going through this inhumane pain for century,since the beginning of time.Yess those men must face there actions but let's not dwell in IIndia problem and rather look at our own country where girls of under 10 gets a full rape session,and our senior woman still get raped.Rape is all over being it in prison,hospitals,police stations or in your back yard.change your vote and bring back the death penalty,or give more harder sentence.

  • ian.robertreid - 2012-12-30 06:01

    We all mourn 4 this young woman! Our South African government must wake up? rapists and murderers must be executed? IRR

  • sabeer.mahomed.3 - 2012-12-30 07:16

    We can have marches upon marches, demonstrate to hell and back, hold all the awareness campaignes our anger wants us to, but until the day morality is not addressed, this filthy crime of rape will NEVER decrease or go away

  • avremel.niselow - 2012-12-30 07:27

    It is this kind if thinking which justifies rape based on the woman's conduct that causes many rapes worldwide.

      Gemma van der Merwe - 2012-12-30 08:13

      NOTHING justifies rape. It is pathetic that men feel that they have to control women because they can't control themselves.

  • bill.mckimm.9 - 2012-12-30 07:41

    Unfortumately, we have an informal death penalty in this country. It is performed by vigilanty groups, and it is a direct result of the totally disfunctional police force we have to protect us. This is a direct result of the ANC having no stomach for the hard things that come with power. The resistance to the apartheid regeme was through civil disobedience and disobeying the rule of law and they now cannot stop and don't want to stop the same things happening on their watch. Rape in this country is a cruel epidemic which has to be addressed and will be addressed by either the police and the courts or by the citizens themselves. JZ and his crew should stop playing politics with things like hospitals and who controls them and do their job of soon they will see an Indian type reaction; and this is Africa and we do things much more violently here. They may start to feel really insecure; even with their blue lights and police protection. Take heed JZ. This is a different world and it is out to get you!

  • johan.harlaar.9 - 2012-12-30 07:44

    It is time for all the real people in this country to stand up against rapists. That is what this article is about. Not what we need as a penalty. THE COUNTRY NEEDS TO HAVE HAD ENOUGH AND STAND UP AGAINST ITS OWN DECAYING MORALS.

  • Cheryl Zackey - 2012-12-30 07:51

    The crime of rape must not be allowed anywhere in the world. The rape of this young woman and ALL other rapes, is the worst crime that man /woman can commit against another human being. the death penalty is too good for them. My sympathies to the Family

  • cynthia.biljoen - 2012-12-30 07:52

    This heinous crime will not go unpunished. Tha inmates of the jail will see to that!!!

  • jairaj.sureschandra - 2012-12-30 11:08

    How horrible. The agony that that victim must have gone through is most definitely unimaginable, perhaps not humanly tangible or comprehensible. However, the extent of her various injuries and eventual death speaks silently. That silence tells us that she was truly, most violently and in the most inhuman manner; she was progressively and repeatedly tortured, and assaulted. In fact, our visual images of the ordeal that the victim went through must surely make us tremble in fear and deep concern about the delicate plight of women and children in our world. Let us rise in one accord men, women and children, unselfishly as victims, whether direct, indirect or potential to protect our women, children, the disabled, gay, minorities etc. Let us demonstrate the we are defenders of Human rights world wide.....

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