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Young Indian nurse dies slow, agonizing death after acid attack

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Twenty-four-year-old Preeti Rathi had won the coveted position of a military nurse, beating out thousands of candidates. She had a shining future ahead of her - before an attacker doused her with acid at a Mumbai bus station last month. Rathi died a slow, agonizing death. Her parents believe her murder was spurred on by jealousy from other candidates.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Standing next to her father, Amar Singh Rathi at the station on May 2, Preeti was blinded, disfigured and was unable to speak before  she died of organ failure.

She had traveled to the city to take up a coveted position as a military nurse, beating thousands of other candidates.

Her attacker was described as a man who was wearing a cap and scarf. Her family told reporters that they believed the attacker was been hired to follow her.

"We feel it has something to do with jealousy about her job. It could be someone from within her friends' circle or our neighborhood," her 57-year-old father said. Her family is now demanding that India's Criminal Investigation Bureau hold an inquiry into her death.

"She suffered severe injuries on her face and internal organs," her father described in an online petition. "Her eyes were damaged, her liver and kidneys got infected and she endured crucifying pain for almost a month.

"She put up a brave fight but eventually gave in to her injuries and infection. She left us after suffering a cardiac arrest."

Her family says that they have lost faith in the police, who claim a man they arrested after the attack had his marriage proposal turned down by Rathi.

The attack on Preeti arrives as acid attacks on Indian women have increased. This deadly assault is typically used by men to intimidate and put them "back in their place," according to activists.

Campaigners told a newspaper that they are seeing two cases a week on average. "The independence and autonomy of young women is seen as a threat," Ranjana Kumari, a sociologist told reporters.

"That's the kind of challenge that women are facing in India. A whole generation of young women is not willing to go by the traditional norms."

Kumari says there has been a pattern of assaults on educated young women.

Activist Pragya Singh, who was the victim of an acid attack by a former boyfriend in 2006, said the easy availability of concentrated acid is contributing to the rise in reports of the crime.

Under a law introduced last March, those convicted of acid attacks face a ten-year jail term. The new ruling followed the death of a physiotherapy student who was gang-raped and murdered on a bus in Delhi in December.

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