Indian rape victim, whose attack sparked massive protest, dies

It’s a horrific story.  An Indian woman on a bus with a male friend, coming home from a movie, brutally attacked by six men and raped for over an over.  This, in a country whose police, and politicians, often don’t take charges of rape seriously.

I had heard something about this the other day, but was so busy with other stories I neglected to look into it. Then caught a bit of it on the news tonight, and now this.

Not only was the crime horrible. But the official reaction to it by some in India was, of course, to blame women.

From AP:

The woman and a male friend, who have not been identified, were traveling in a public bus in the Indian capital, New Delhi, after watching a film on the evening of Dec. 16 when they were attacked by six men who raped her. They also beat the couple and inserted an iron rod into her body resulting in severe organ damage. Both of them were then stripped and thrown off the bus, according to police.

Indian police have arrested six people in connection with the attack, which left the victim with severe internal injuries, a lung infection and brain damage. She also suffered from a heart attack while in hospital in India.

The woman has now died in Singapore.

India’s government doesn’t seem terrible interested in moving the ball forward on this one. From NPR:

Prime Minister Singh said Friday that the public can be assured his government is committed to punishing the guilty. The six accused in the gang rape will reportedly be charged next week.

Singh did not publicly address the rape that unleashed the mass protests until Monday, eight days after the attack occurred. Nor did any government official address the crowds, deepening a perception of indifference.

Unfazed by the public outcry, the president’s son, Abhijit Mukherjee ignited new anger Thursday when he described the women protesting the rape as “dented and painted,” as if they were a damaged car.

The son, a national lawmaker, has since apologized.  Not enough.  He should resign.

More evidence of the Indian government’s rank idiocy and misogyny:

rape woman fear women

Woman via Shutterstock.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said he was not obligated to speak to the protesters, and he equated them with Maoist rebels who have long infiltrated the countryside.

The Delhi police, overseen by the central government, used tear gas and water cannons on the protesters, whose ranks included families with children.

India apparently has a problem with police not taking rape cases seriously.

From CBS News:

Indian authorities have been accused of belittling rape victims and refusing to file cases against their attackers, further deterring victims — already under societal pressure to keep the assaults quiet — from reporting the crimes.

Indian attitudes toward rape are so entrenched that even politicians and opinion makers have often suggested that women should not go out at night or wear clothes that might be seen provocative.

CBS notes that another woman, age 18, killed herself a month after reporting to the police that she was gang-raped:

The Press Trust of India reported that the woman was raped Nov. 13 and reported the attack to police Nov. 27. But police harassed the girl, asked her embarrassing questions and took no action against the accused, PTI reported, citing police sources.

Authorities in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh also suspended a police officer on accusations he refused to register a rape complaint from a woman who said she had been attacked by a driver.

No wonder people are in the street.  What a horrific story.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    True that.

  • beautyandbeast5

    We get that you’re upset with the government, but maybe consider that India is a country where the government makes laws that are rarely followed anyway (if you have enough money to get out of it). Yeah, the government acted STUPIDLY and let’s be honest, they were trying to cover their asses – but what’s new? It’s just that in this case it was extremely obvious due to the massive law and order problems. Selfish politicians were always present but their actions in this case are secondary to the real and more serious issue – THE CULTURAL ONE. Most people here are talking about Indian society because we’re trying to look at the large picture here and what needs to change – by bringing it back again and again to the actions of an ineffectual government no one really respects anyways you’re kinda painting yourself in denial.

    If you’ve spent even a single day in India you’ll know that our beautiful society has a certain opinion of women, “If you don’t want them to look at you (read: rape you), then don’t dress that way! Come home before dark…don’t look at strange men. Don’t stand next to men on the bus. Go on the ladies specials.”

    Yeah it’s good to be on the safe side, but that one moment should let you know that the BLAME FOR THE RAPE ALMOST ALWAYS GOES BACK TO THE GIRL. We’re not a bunch of rapists, no. We’re just a bunch of patriarchal traditionalists who believe that having a penis means that you’re better (do NOT get me started on female foeticide).

    Saying that, I agree that the relatives of the men shouldn’t be blamed (much as we don’t punish the parents for a serial killer child). But no one is – people were angry, but then kinda ignored them…No one here is vilifying them and yes, I do believe you’re slightly delusional (or making up stuff for your argument). They ARE more worried about their neighbourhood – I can tell you that without even reading because that’s how our country works: we worry about ‘family honor’ and ‘image’ more than anything else. Living in the slums doesn’t take away that pride. I can promise you right now that those people felt sorry for the victim, then promptly forgot her and tried to figure out how to get out of this without being dragged to hell and back – it’s a survival instinct or sorts to ignore the rest and focus on your hide, especially in India where rape victims have a silent ‘slut’ stamp next to them.

    Finally, that argument above yours was reasonable and not personal (unlike mine cause I don’t really care about offending you) but you replied with ” I don’t think you have adequate knowledge of India, and your views are just caricatured stereotypes.” Sweetie – I’m Indian. I’ve been there and let me tell you now, the stereotypes would be doing us all a favour if they were true. I love my country, and I love our tradition in the context of an ancient artform but I CAN admit to its shortcomings. India is extremely anti-feminist. India is extremely supportive of male dominance and violence. Oh, and India (not the government – INDIA) is extremely kind towards criminals, especially in sex related crimes.

    If I were that poor girl, I’d rather my death were used to fuel discussions about how to change the behaviour of my society towards victims such as myself rather than ones of how the government is trying to stay in power. Priorities people, priorities.

  • beautyandbeast5

    ^Edit: Of a son.

  • mirror

    I hear you. In fact, it seems clear that our media and government in the U.S. like to sweep these social and legal horrors towards women under the rug as soon as possible because they have economic and political goals they consider a priority which they think will be jeopardized.

  • benb

    11:05PM on 12/31/2012 and the thought crosses my mind: we have Women’s Shelters in the US for abused women—can’t we do this on an international level? At the very least, we could establish a virtual battered woman’s refuge/country? A member nation signs on to support Women’s Rights and that means they have to host embassies which are…essentially..shelters insulated from the local culture & government….foreign property (trespass and you risk being shot). Since most of the world is obsessed with ‘Honor’, have the embassy staffed entirely by women. I suppose a real place—an island or independent state—would be even better but…well, a fleet of ships anchored in international waters could serve the same function. It’s a stretch but it has been talked about for getting around the H1B cap in the US for tech workers.

  • manofsan

    I think you are trying to vilify the poor friends and relatives of the monstrous perpetrators, who live much more fragile lives than you do, and to declare them guilty along with the rapists. They live in terrible poverty, in a society that is growing more and more materialistic and shallow all the time. I don’t think you have adequate knowledge of India, and your views are just caricatured stereotypes.

  • Sarah

    Having been to Delhi 3 times last year on business, you’d be shocked at the weak, corrupt govt and how things we take for granted in US are just simply not there in India. Govt regulations are weak at best and typically not observed. Houses are built out of code and collapse in a strong wind. Normal. Electrical wires are never in code. After a rainstorm, poorly insulated wires make a patch of grass “live” and a child is electrocuted for walking over it. Normal life. People steal manhole covers to sell the metal. A 6 yr old falls in and drowns in sewage. Normal. The Police in Delhi will simply not file charges unless they absolutely have to, and rape is way down the list. They must keep crime stats low to make Delhi seem “safe”, so Western countries will send their money and managers (like me) there. There’s something like a rape every 18hrs in Delhi, and that’s just the ones that get reported. So do the math – not pretty. Even if people are charged, the courts are so overloaded they rarely get to trial and just get released on bail. It’s shocking. India is struggling in a phase where it’s growth and the money coming from the West is far outpacing it’s government’s ability to properly regulate and manage commerce, infrastructure, public safety, name it. The fact that the govt is deeply corrupt of course, doesn’t help.

  • Naja pallida

    While it is certainly not be innate, it most certainly isn’t just modern influences that lead to such denigration and abuse of women. While it is true that India has made huge strides, even taking the step of codifying equal pay for equal work that our own Congress is too cowardly to do, there are still overwhelming elements of patriarchal and caste society prevalent in India. To the point where it is considered one of the top five most dangerous countries to be a woman by human rights groups. Only war torn African nations, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (which one could argue shares many of the same views on women as much of India, it just doesn’t have the actual laws to attempt to prove otherwise) are considered worse. Factor in poverty and overpopulation, and it is a recipe for a dangerous mess.

    One thing I found striking about most of the articles you linked to, almost everyone interviewed seemed more upset that the men brought shame on their neighborhood, and that it was going to affect their own wellbeing, rather than being upset about the horrific crime that was actually perpetrated. Maybe that is just the words chosen, or it was a cultural thing that I’m missing, but it seemed odd to me.

  • UFIA

    The driver did it.

  • manofsan

    I see people here claiming that Indians have some intrinsic love for committing rape. As an Indian, I agree that this an horrific crime, but I don’t think that it’s traditional culture which condones rape, but more like today’s modern dysfunctional culture that’s unleashed it.

    The rapists who committed this monstrous act were a bunch of drunks – take a look at some profiles of the rapists, and of people from the same slum who knew them. You can read their names, and even the names of their relatives:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/12/29/in-delhi-slum-tales-of-the-rape-suspects/

    http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/delhi-gangrape-damini-cremated-accused-neighbours-want-them-dead/1/240072.html

  • benb

    The government’s muted response makes me wonder if a lot of this isn’t about protecting some sons of the rich and influencial.

  • Stan

    For the love of God, please stop using unrelated stock photos on blog posts like this. It’s bizarrely unserious in the face of a deeply serious issue.

  • Naja pallida

    Oh, I don’t know about worse, just different. In Saudi Arabia, they’ve been known to sentence the rapist to lashings and prison, and then also sentence the woman who was raped to jail time and being lashed (though, not nearly as long), for being alone with a man not her relative.

    In other places, like Jordan, they allow the rapist to work out a deal with the family, so that if he marries his victim, he doesn’t get punished for the rape.

    In Yemen, girls are basically sold off into marriage as children, with a vague provision in law to say that husbands shouldn’t have sex with them until they’re of a “suitable” age. There was a pretty highly publicized case just a couple years ago about a 10 year old girl who was fighting for a divorce, because she was being raped by her husband.

    In Egypt, Human rights organizations have accused the Muslim Brotherhood of paying gangs of men to rape or otherwise sexually violate women participating in any kind of protests or public demonstrations against the new government.

    There were some recent publicized cases of child rape in Iraq, with parents disparaging the Iraqi security forces being incapable of doing anything about it.

    The list goes on and on and on.

  • http://blogvader.tumblr.com/ Blogvader

    Holy fuck, this is sad. I can only wonder why no one, apparently the driver included, did anything to stop it.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    One thing India definitely has, as a nation and as a culture, is a ‘woman problem.’

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/28/india_has_a_woman_problem?page=0,1

    It is an intensely patriarchal society where pretty much the only way a female can achieve respect is to become a mother.

  • loona_c

    I heard the victim was a medical student. The rest of the story, was how many people were on the bus?? Did they not do anything? That part of the world is rough on women what with child brides, bride burning, female infanticide. You have to change the culture of the whole society to start respecting women. Another story mentioned she “died peacefully.” Yeah right.

  • Nigel

    The entire event is sad. While the “caste” system is no longer legal in India, I wonder the caste of the attackers and the caste of the victim, and next the caste of the authorities. This could be an example of historic institutionalized discrimination, but no one will ever discuss this aspect publicly.

  • mirror

    This treatment of rape is far worse than most Muslim countries, in a place we often hold up as some kind of alternative beacon of civil rights. I’m amazed at how ignorant and susceptible to image management I still am.

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