News / Asia

    India Marks Somber New Year's Eve After Rape Victim's Death

    Students hold candles as they pray during a candlelight vigil for a gang rape victim, who was assaulted in New Delhi and later died, in Ahmedabad, India, December 31, 2012.
    Students hold candles as they pray during a candlelight vigil for a gang rape victim, who was assaulted in New Delhi and later died, in Ahmedabad, India, December 31, 2012.
    VOA News
    Many across India canceled festive New Year's Eve celebrations Monday out of respect for the young woman who died days earlier from injuries suffered during a brutal gang rape.

    The unidentified victim, a 23-year-old student, died Saturday from severe internal injuries that her assailants caused with a metal rod during the attack on a bus two weeks ago. Six men have been arrested and charged with murder in the December 16 attack in New Delhi. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

    Reflecting the country's somber mood, hotels, clubs, India's military and even the head of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, called off their parties to greet the new year. Many have joined candlelight vigils in the capital and other major cities. Others have chosen to protest peacefully, in contrast to the violent demonstrations that erupted in New Delhi a week ago.

    Debate sparked

    The woman's death has set off a debate about what India needs to do to protect women. Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide rarely enter mainstream political discourse in India.

    Protesters and politicians have called for tougher rape laws, major police reforms and a transformation in the way the nation treats women.

    BJP, the main opposition party, has called for a special session of parliament to discuss the issues and to amend legislation.

    However, BJP lawmaker Banwari Lal Singhal has called for a ban on skirts as part of school uniforms. He said he wants the girls to wear pants because a new dress code would keep girls "away from the lustful gazes of men."

    Mamata Sharma, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, slammed the legislator for his remarks, saying instead of changing the dress code of the girls, he should ask men to change their attitudes and treat both sexes equally.

    Action demanded

    Human Rights Watch said the gang rape "should spur decisive action" by the Indian government.  

    Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW's South Asia director, said the Indian government needs to act immediately to prevent sexual assault and ensure the dignified treatment of survivors.

    The outcry over the attack caught the Indian government off guard. It took a week for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make a statement on the case, infuriating many protesters.

    The woman is reported to have accepted a ride with a male companion on a charter bus in New Delhi where the six men on board beat them both with an iron rod. The woman was raped repeatedly. Reports say the rod was used in the rape. The woman and her friend were then thrown from the moving vehicle. The male friend survived the attack.

    • Lawyers shout slogans as they hold placards and a banner during a protest demanding the judicial system act faster against rape outside a district court in New Delhi, India, January 3, 2013.
    • Indians stand in a line to enter the District Court complex where a new fast-track court was inaugurated Wednesday to deal specifically with crimes against women, in New Delhi, India, January 3, 2013.
    • An elderly Indian man lights a candle at a makeshift memorial of a gang-rape victim in New Delhi, India, Janueary 3, 2013.
    • Women carrying placards enter Raj Ghat to attend a prayer ceremony for a rape victim after a rally organized by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit (unseen), New Delhi, India, January 2, 2013.
    • A student prays during a vigil for a gang rape victim, who was assaulted in New Delhi, in Ahmedabad, India, December 31, 2012.
    • Students hold candles as they pray during a vigil for a gang rape victim who was assaulted in New Delhi, in Ahmedabad, India, December 31, 2012.
    • Men lie on a street while on a hunger strike during a protest in New Delhi, India, December 31, 2012.
    • Students participate in a protest rally, in Hyderabad, India, December 31, 2012.
    • Indians burn effigies of the rapists during a candle-lit vigil to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India, December 30, 2012.
    • Indians participate in a candle-lit vigil to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India, December 30, 2012.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
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    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    January 01, 2013 8:23 PM
    India need seriously learn from China. China is far advanced than India in every fields.
    The so called west democracy wont do any good to India.
    You should try eastern civilization!

    by: Sumona Apsara Parii
    January 01, 2013 3:16 PM
    India is regarded as our Motherland. As a Mother, then, I wonder how hurt and saddened She (our Motherland) must feel that her daughters are treated as such? A place where women are in many of our spiritual scriptures revered as Devis (Goddesses). I thus completely agree with Mamata Sharma's statement: That instead of changing the dress code of girls, men need to honor and respect women. Men's inherent attitudes towards women have to change and to treat both sexes with equal dignity.



    by: cath from: uk
    January 01, 2013 12:40 PM
    The students and the middle class in India need to put constant pressure to change the laws regarding women, education to change male attitudes, build a strong and sympathetic police, increase women police officer and lesson on self defence for girls and women.

    The other MAIN priority for each indian is to watch the government like hawks and ensure that any minister who is not working for the people to be kicked out of his office together with the goons who are supporting them. The public should be ruthless in their demand for transparency and if the corrupt judges do not put them in jail, then again is time for the public to root and through them out.

    Yes it not how a democratic country behaves, no matter because indian politicians do not exercise democracy. They and the corporate fat cats only want money and power. People of India keep up the presure to eradicate the corrupt and the greedy.

    by: Dave Hector from: Boise, ID
    January 01, 2013 1:53 AM
    Allow ALL women to carry handguns and teach all of your sisters, wives, aunts and mother how to defend themselves from an attacker. If this element (they are not human though they walk among us) knows that they will face a bullet should they attempt this again, perhaps they will think twice...
    In Response

    by: soshaljustic from: NV
    January 01, 2013 2:34 PM
    Better yet-begin a movement that men will join, in support of women, in your nation-to battle the lack of egalitarianism in all corners of the nation. Join Planned Parenthood to keep those doors open and give women the choices, to engender women with their power of self-hood whether it is in or out of the health care setting.

    Teach women at home to voice their egalitarianism and set policies at home! Breast feeding in public, should not be a problem. Areas for the woman that does, would be a nicety for those that wish to use as well, women love choices as well as men when never forced to conform to a social norm, women choose theirs when given options. A woman should not need to carry a gun for men to behave socially appropriate and not as a wild beast untamed, untrainedl!!

    by: robertpotter from: boston, Massachusetts
    December 31, 2012 11:04 PM
    I have been following this horrendous crime since the minute it was posted to give these assailants anything other than the death sentence is a total miscarriage of justice .i would like to know where indian males get the right to murder women because of antiquated beliefs is beyond me as a human being and people call the US a country that violates peoples civil and individual rights .....please take a look at your medieval doctrine towards women.I know if that was my daughter her assailants would not be taking another breath .
    In Response

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    January 01, 2013 7:58 PM
    well, the human rights groups not gonna be happy if those criminals being executed.
    Not long ago, the UN vote more than 100 countries against death penalty. Now listen what they gonna say, LOL

    by: Bean Cube
    December 31, 2012 7:09 PM
    Family of Indian rape victim calls for death penalty?!!!

    No!!! Don't let them died, use them for our movement instead. If you killed them, you have no rights for a movement anymore. Keep them alive, document all details about them and the society for your movement. Women, do let them off the hook that easily. Their deaths only make you feel you can forget the anger, but those repeating violence in our society will remind us of horror and fears without the slightest improvement we can demand. Keep them alive and use them for our demands of reforms.

    by: FreezeFrame99 from: PA
    December 31, 2012 5:29 PM
    If India has such a high rape rate, why are so many Indians so upset about this one particular gang rape enough to cancel New Year's festivities over it? Another question....If India has a problem with men believing women are less than equal to men, why are there so many tens of thousands of men protesting against this rape? In the USA where women are more or less perceived as equal to men, we have never seen men protest so vehemently against something that demeans women. American women have never seen that kind of support from American men.
    In Response

    by: Bean Cube
    December 31, 2012 7:17 PM
    Don't forget GOP against Planned Parenthood, a lot of men are behind their sons and daughters and their female member of their families. Right wing shallow attitudes and ignorant languages will continue back fires.
    In Response

    by: Venus from: San Jose
    December 31, 2012 6:15 PM
    Well said, FreezeFrame!
    In Response

    by: Lazy from: Wisconsin
    December 31, 2012 6:05 PM
    If you comment based on what newspapers are saying, you would not get a right answer. If it is written women are less than men, it is not true in all corners. That is the reason why men are protesting--more over, it is brutality.

    by: velayat from: Iran
    December 31, 2012 4:43 PM
    to all of our Indian friends... don't worry... the rape does not tarnish your reputation... there is nothing you could do to tarnish your reputation...
    In Response

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    January 01, 2013 7:49 PM
    @ D.S from India, R u moron? that is sarcasm!

    Your reputation just can't be lower, LOL
    In Response

    by: D. S from: India
    January 01, 2013 12:08 AM
    Thanks Velayat from Iran for your warm words.

    by: Rick Karaitiana from: Melbourne
    December 31, 2012 4:21 PM
    Regarding the rape ot the young student in India by six men, there is only one verdict, if proven guilty, and that is execution, it would send a message from the Indian Government to all Indian males that rape will not be tolerated. all eyes will be upon you India, and you will be judged as such..

    by: Douglas Beare from: Lakeway, Texas
    December 31, 2012 4:01 PM
    India has alway been an enigma to me. Westerners have sought out gurus there to enlighten them for over a century. Gandhi is considered one of the "enlightened ones" for his views and practice in passive resistance. How is it such a country skipped over the bit about equal rights for women. I've read that countless wives have been doused in gasoline and set afire by their husbands because the wife's family fell behind on dowry payments. Now news of these brutal rapes and murders of women that go without justice seems to cast doubt on the "enlightenment" and human evolution of the whole Indian culture.
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