Rape Victim in India Dies, Sparks Protests

Raveenran/AFP/Getty Images
Raveenran/AFP/Getty Images

In India, one woman's death may mark a sea change against sexual harrassment and assault in the country. On Saturday, an unnamed woman died from organ failure after sustaining multiple injuries when she was gang raped by several men on a moving bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16. According to the New York Times, incident's over-the-top violence has galvanized many Indians to protest the casual sexual harassment of women. In addition, the six men charged in her attack have been charged with murder, in a country where the death penalty is only used in the "rarest of rare" cases.

Late Saturday afternoon, thousands of people, most of them men, filled Jantar Mantar, an observatory and popular protest ground in New Delhi, where they waved placards and shouted slogans. When Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of Delhi, arrived there in the early afternoon surrounded by a police escort, she was booed, heckled and jostled by the crowd. Ms. Dikshit, a diminutive 74-year-old, stayed only a few minutes, lighting a candle and holding her hands together in prayer. She did not speak to the crowd. As darkness fell here in New Delhi, the crowd at Jantar Mantar lighted hundreds of candles.

Upamanyu Raju, 21, a student at Delhi University who attended the Jantar Mantar protest, said he had been protesting since a day after the rape victim was admitted to the hospital because of the "utter atrocity of what happened."

Mr. Raju said he had given his younger sister pepper spray and a Swiss Army knife, but he worried that those things would not protect her. "It's wrong to stop girls from going out" of the house, he said, but there is little choice because the city is so unsafe for women. According to a 2010 survey, more than a third of the women questioned in New Delhi said they had been physically sexually harassed in the previous year, but less than 1 percent reported the assault to the police.

Read more at the New York Times.

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