• Student rape triggers mass protest in India
     | December 23,2012
    AP Photo

    Activists march from the Presidential Palace to India Gate in New Delhi, India, to demand better protection for women following the gang-rape and beating of a 23-year-old student by six men on a bus. Thousands marched Saturday, and more are expected today.

    NEW DELHI — Thousands of protesters streamed into the heart of New Delhi on Saturday to demand justice and better policing in the wake of the brutal rape of a 23-year-old medical student.

    Protesters and the police scuffled throughout the day. Some police vehicles were damaged, and the police eventually used tear gas, water cannons and sticks to disperse the crowd. Officials said that 35 protesters and 37 police officers were injured, two officers seriously, and that six buses and several police vehicles were damaged.

    The protesters promised to return in even greater numbers Sunday, a threat grave enough that Home Minister Sushil Shinde held a news conference on Saturday night to plead for calm.

    ‘’The government is committed to ensuring the safety of women in the capital as well as in the rest of the country,” Shinde said. “I appeal to this media, to all those who have come to support this dedication, to withdraw.”

    Outrage over the crime has continued to build not only in New Delhi but all over India even as the police arrested six men accused of being involved. Shinde said that the victim gave a statement to a magistrate on Friday night, and that the government had sufficient evidence to prosecute the suspects.

    Currently, the maximum penalty for rape in India is life in prison. But conviction rates for rape in India are lower than conviction rates for murder, experts say.

    The woman was raped on Dec. 16 after she and her boyfriend boarded a private bus. The bus, normally used to ferry school children, drove through some of Delhi’s better neighborhoods while the men raped the woman and, using iron rods, beat her and her friend.

    The men then stripped the two victims of their clothes and dumped them by the road.

    Tens of thousands of rapes are reported every year in India, and many more go unreported because rape victims are often shunned and unable to marry. Even so, reported rape is on the rise, up about 25 percent in the past six years. Surveys have suggested that India is one of the most unsafe countries in the world for women.

    The rape victim has had to undergo multiple surgeries and a portion of her intestines had to be removed, doctors said. Shinde also said that the government had canceled all permits for the transportation company that owns the bus on which the rape occurred.

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