Adding her voice to the worldwide condemnation of the vicious gang rape that led to the death of a 23-year-old Indian student, Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop claimed most rapes in this country go unpunished.
“There were 572 officially reported rapes in New Delhi in 2011. In Dublin last year the trained volunteer cohort of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre accompanied 270 victims of recent rape and sexual assault to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in the Rotunda Hospital. The Savi (Sexual Assault and Violence in Ireland) report, published in 2002, told us that only one in 10 report these heinous crimes to the gardaí. Most rapes in this country are committed with impunity.”
The woman who died after being gang raped and beaten on a bus in India’s capital was cremated yesterday amid an outpouring of anger and grief by millions across the country demanding greater protection for women from sexual violence.
The cremation took place in New Delhi soon after the woman’s body arrived on a special Air India flight from Singapore, where she had been sent for treatment but died in hospital on Friday.
The tragedy has forced India to confront the reality that sexually assaulted women are often blamed for the crime, forcing them to keep quiet and discouraging them from going to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule. Police often refuse to accept complaints from rape victims, and rare prosecutions that reach court can drag on for years.
Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, were at the airport to receive the body and meet family members of the victim.
Hours after the victim died, Indian police charged six men who had been arrested in connection with the attack with murder, adding to accusations that they beat and gang raped the woman on a bus in New Delhi on Dec 16.
A police spokesman said the six suspects face the death penalty if convicted.
After 10 days at a hospital in New Delhi, the victim, who has not been identified, was on Thursday taken to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth hospital, which specialises in multi-organ transplants, but her condition worsened.
Following her death, thousands of Indians lit candles, held prayer meetings, and marched through cities and towns, including New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, on Saturday to express their grief and demand stronger protection for women and the death pen-alty for rape, which is now punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment.
But even as thousands mourned the rape victim’s death and in a sign of how pervasive such crimes are, police in West Bengal state were investigating another suspected gang rape and death.
In the latest case, the family of a woman said she and her husband were attacked by six men as they returned home after working at a brick factory. They dragged the woman into a nearby farm after pouring acid into her husband’s mouth.
The woman was found dead with multiple injuries, said police, who are waiting for an autopsy report.
The alleged attack is similar to the Dec 16 case, where the woman and a male friend were on a bus after watching a film when they were attacked by six men who raped her. The men beat the couple and inserted an iron rod into the woman’s body, resulting in severe organ damage. Both were then stripped and thrown off the bus.