Demonstrators hold candles during a candlelight vigil for a gang rape victim who was assaulted in New Delhi. Photo by Reuters
The body of a woman, whose gang rape provoked protests and
rare national debate about violence against women in India,
arrived back in New Delhi and was cremated at a private
Scuffles broke out in central Delhi between police and
protesters who say the government is doing too little to
protect women. But the 2000-strong rally was confined to a
single area, unlike last week when protests raged up
throughout the capital.
Riot police manned barricades along streets leading to India
Gate war memorial - a focal point for demonstrators - and, at
another gathering point - the centuries-old Jantar Mantar -
protesters held banners reading "We want justice!" and
Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go
unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according
to social activists, who say that successive governments have
done little to ensure the safety of women.
The unidentified 23-year-old victim of the December 16 gang
rape died of her injuries on Saturday (local time), prompting
promises of action from a government that has struggled to
respond to public outrage.
The medical student had suffered brain injuries and massive
internal injuries in the attack and died in hospital in
Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.
She and a male friend had been returning home from the
cinema, media reports say, when six men on a bus beat them
with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. The friend
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's
major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours,
police figures show. Reported rape cases rose by nearly 17
percent between 2007 and 2011, according to government data.
Six suspects were charged with murder after her death and
face the death penalty if convicted.
In Kolkata, one of India's four biggest cities, police said a
man reported that his mother had been gang-raped and killed
by a group of six men in a small town near the city on
She was killed on her way home with her husband, a senior
official said, and the attackers had thrown acid at the
husband, raped and killed her, and dumped her body in a
Police declined to give any further details. One officer told
Reuters no criminal investigation had yet been launched.
The leader of India's ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi,
was seen arriving at the airport when the plane carrying the
woman's body from Singapore landed and Prime Minister
Mannmohan Singh's convoy was also there.
A Reuters correspondent saw family members who had been with
her in Singapore take her body from the airport to their
Delhi home in an ambulance with a police escort.
Her body was then taken to a crematorium and cremated. Media
were kept away but a Reuters witness saw the woman's family,
New Delhi's chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, and the junior
home minister, R P N Singh, coming out of the crematorium.
The outcry over the attack caught the government off guard.
It took a week for the prime minister to make a statement,
infuriating many protesters. Last weekend they fought pitched
battles with police.
Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female
infanticide rarely enter mainstream political discourse.
Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed "Amanat", an Urdu
word meaning "treasure", by some Indian media could change
that, though it is too early to say whether the protesters
can sustain their momentum through to national elections due
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon added his voice to those
demanding change, calling for "further steps and reforms to
deter such crimes and bring perpetrators to justice".
Commentators and sociologists say the incident earlier this
month has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians
feel over what they see as weak governance and poor
leadership on social issues.
Newspapers raised doubts about the commitment of both male
politicians and the police to protecting women.
"Would the Indian political system and class have been so
indifferent to the problem of sexual violence if half or even
one-third of all legislators were women?" the Hindu newspaper
The Indian Express said it was more complicated than
realising that the police force was understaffed and
"It is geared towards dominating citizens rather than working
for them, not to mention being open to influential
interests," the newspaper said. "It reflects the misogyny
around us, rather than actively fighting for the rights of
citizens who happen to be female."