Delhi braces for protests after gang rape victim dies

New Delhi/Singapore – An Indian woman whose gang rape in New Delhi triggered violent protests has died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital, bringing a security lockdown in Delhi and recognition from India’s prime minister that social change is needed.

Bracing for a new wave of protests, Indian authorities closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in the heart of New Delhi, where demonstrators have converged since the attack to demand improved women’s rights.

About 100 people staged a peaceful protest this morning.

The 23-year-old medical student, severely beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday for specialist treatment.

The attack has sparked an intense national debate for the first time about the treatment of women and attitudes towards sex crimes in a nation where most rapes go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists.

“We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4.45am on December 29 2012. Her family and officials from the High Commission (embassy) of India were by her side,” Mount Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Kelvin Loh said in a statement.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was deeply saddened by the death and described the emotions associated with her case as “perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change.

“It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channelise these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action”, Singh said in a statement.

Delhi’s chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, said the woman’s death was a “shameful moment for me not just as a chief minister but also as a citizen of this country”.

The woman, who has not been identified, and a male friend were returning home from the cinema by bus on the evening of December 16 when, media reports say, six men on the bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman.

Media said a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. Both were thrown from the bus. The male friend survived the attack.

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