India gang rape protesters gather in Delhi

India gang rape protesters gather in Delhi 

Protesters hold candles and posters during a rally in India on 30 December 2012
Protesters are gathering in the Indian capital, Delhi, for more demonstrations in anger at the gang rape of a young woman on a bus a fortnight ago.Thousands of residents and clubs have cancelled New Year celebrations to mourn the 23-year-old student who died in a Singapore hospital where she was being treated for severe injuries.She was cremated in Delhi on Sunday.The attack sparked huge protests about gender attitudes in India amid calls to change laws on violence against women.

Six men arrested for the 16 December rape have been charged with murder. If convicted, they face the death penalty.Meanwhile, the victims's family has demanded death penalty for her killers.
"The fight has just begun. We want all the accused hanged, and we will fight for that, till the end," the brother told The Indian Express newspaper.Speaking to the newspaper, the woman's father said the family has been consumed by grief."My wife had hardly eaten in the last two weeks," he said."She was exhausted... I think she was not ready to face the shock of our daughter's death, despite doctors always telling us that she was serious. She cried intermittently all of Saturday, but it got worse on the flight back home."The father said he too was in shock."It is too painful. I have not gone inside her room. She was born in this house. Her books, clothes they are all here."It is hard to believe I will never hear her voice again, she will never read books to me in English again," he said.The Indian government was heavily criticised for its response to the attack which many called "slow" and inadequate.

Indian PM Mr Singh said he was "very saddened" by the woman's death, and that the angry public reaction was "perfectly understandable".The leader of India's governing Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, has promised to fight what she called India's shameful social mindsets that lie behind such crimes.Call for tougher laws
A condolence meeting for the gang-rape victim is due to be held at the Jantar Mantar observatory in central Delhi on Monday.

Groups of students, who have been holding days of spontaneous protests in the capital, have said they will gather to demand tougher laws to protect women in the country.Leaders from India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are also expected to take part in the protests.Meanwhile, the city authorities are due to launch a new telephone helpline for women in distress.The 24-hour helpline number 181 will operate out of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's office and will be connected with all the 185 police stations across the city, officials said.Brutal assaultThe gang-rape has sparked two weeks of massive protests in the city.Over the weekend, candlelit vigils were held to mourn the woman and express anger and sorrow at her death.Large areas of Delhi were sealed off and hundreds of armed police and riot troops deployed.

The victim died in Singapore on Saturday and her body was brought back to Delhi. Her funeral took place on Sunday under tight security.
The woman - a medical student whose identity has not been released - and her friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus in the Munirka area of Delhi, intending to travel to Dwarka in the south-west of the city.

Friends told the AFP news agency the couple were in a relationship and had been planning to marry in the next few weeks.According to official figures, a woman is raped in Delhi every 14 hours, while women across the country say they are frequently subjected to sexual intimidation and violence.Officials have since announced a series of measures intended to make the city safer for women.These include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains.
But many of the protesters say that women are viewed as second-class citizens, and that a fundamental change in culture and attitudes, backed up by law, is needed to protect them.


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