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Gang rape on bus in India inspires nationwide protest

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 20th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old female medical student in New Delhi has brought lots of simmering anger to the surface among India's women. The incident has served as a springboard as to how women in India face intimidation and violence on a daily basis.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Protests have erupted across Delhi as well as other cities across India. The nation's usually apathetic politicians have sat up and taken notice among the public demand for swift and terrible justice for the culprits responsible.

"It's a day of national shame,\" lamented Jaya Bachchan, a member of Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian parliament.

\"Rapists should be hanged," Delhi's top police official Neeraj Kumar said. He says that he has never come across any other attack in his long career that matched the recent one\'s brutality.

The victim continues to fight for her life at Safdarjung Hospital. Several of her vital organs were damaged after she and her male companion were beaten by the assailants and then thrown off the bus.

Doctors are cautiously optimistic that the girl will eventually pull through. But it has done precious little to heal the scars that the mindless brutality has left either on both the nation's conscience and Delhi's reputation.

Delhi is already notorious for being an extremely unsafe city where women face various forms of abuse on a daily basis. "New Delhi is no longer a safe place for women, and it\'s difficult to step outside of one\'s home after dusk,\" Ayesha Ahmed, a former Delhi resident who now lives in Mumbai says.

New Delhi registered 572 rape cases last year, which was much more than any of the other big cities in the country like Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore. Women's rights organization Jagori says the city leads the country in crimes against women such as rape, molestation, dowry harassment and domestic violence.

A whopping 80 percent of women in a city of 20 million complained of having been sexually harassed. An astonishing four-fifths of all women said they feared for their safety on streets, especially at night.

Why is New Delhi so unsafe? There is a diversity of opinion. One top police official told the NDTV television channel that the rising figures reflected growing women empowerment. Women today are better educated and informed and they are more prone to register cases than ever before, he said.

The official overlooked the fact that New Delhi has poor policing and abysmal conviction rate that allows rapists often a free run.

"The police have their priorities skewed,\" complains B Arun, a journalist with a prominent newspaper. Theoretically, Delhi has a policeman for every 223 people, but what's unstated is that most of their duty hours are spent on protecting the teeming number of political leaders who crowd the nation's capital.

Policing streets therefore is shoddy as is investigation of crime. Compared to 44 percent in 1973, conviction rate in rape cases in had dropped to below 26 percent by 2010.


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