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Rape victim's mother says death penalty is 'not about revenge'

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

Four men accused in the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old female medical student is set to be decided in a New Delhi court. Her parents say they are seeking the death penalty, but according to the victim's mother, "it's not about revenge." The shocking case has galvanized dialogue about women's rights throughout India, leading to demonstrations and heightened discussions.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The judge is expected to render his decision in the case shortly. "It's not about revenge," the woman's 46-year-old mother says. "If they don't get the death penalty after committing a crime like this, there will be no end to such crimes."

The group of men attacked the 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus as she headed home with a male friend after a movie last December. Raped and sexually assaulted with a metal bar, she was dumped, naked and bleeding, on to the roadside. She later died from her injuries in a Singapore hospital.

The victim's 53-year-old father says he often feels frozen in time, stuck on the horrific night of his daughter's attack. Every day when he awakes, he looks to his daughter's picture. "It brings tears to my eyes," he says. "Only someone who has gone through this can understand a parent's pain," he said.

Her mother vividly recalls the ordeal her daughter faced in the various hospitals where they sought treatment. "Every inch of her was injured," she said. "Even on her head, chunks of hair were torn from her scalp." Her daughter died from her injuries on December 29 of last year.

The parents and their two surviving children, both boys, recently moved into a new apartment, provided by the government. They say they spend most of their time together on an outdoor balcony. One of her brothers is set to move to Bangalore to study aeronautical engineering this month. The other brother is attending a prestigious private school.

The woman's parents remain preoccupied with the crime against their daughter and what can be done to curb violence against women in India.

"Rapes are happening. There's no point sitting with our hands folded. We have to find a solution," the father said. "You have to search. I have to search, society has to search, and the government has to search."

"Until we change the mind-set in our homes" that women can be harassed and abused, the mother said, "this will continue."

Her father defends his original choices when he said he encouraged her studies in order to one day become a doctor.

"People think 'Maybe we won't let our daughters study; we'll get them married.' But this is not a solution to the problem," the woman's father said. "I won't say, 'Don't let the girls study.' Make your daughters tougher so they can face a problem."

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