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Inside Story

Confronting India's culture of rape

As nationwide anger mounts we ask if there is enough political will to protect women from violence and abuse.
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2012 10:57

The body of the Indian woman who was gang-raped has been cremated in the capital, New Delhi.

"This is an unprecedented response to this rape case not only because of its sheer brutality that moved them beyond imgaination but also because we have so many rape cases reported over the years and our justice system is really very slow and conviction rates are very, very low that is the reason why a lot of such rape cases are happening and increasing because there is no fear of law at the moment and people want all this to change."

- Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Centre for Social Research

Prayers and vigils were held for the 23-year-old medical student who died in a Singapore hospital where she was flown for specialist treatment after the attack on December 16.

The woman and a male friend, who also remains unidentified, got on a bus in New Delhi after watching a film when they were attacked by six men.

The men reportedly 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 moving bus, according to Indian police.

The couple was planning to get married next year, neighbours of the male friend told local media on Sunday.

Since then, thousands have taken to the streets in a public outcry and mounting anger that caught the Indian government off-guard.

The six suspects have been charged with the woman's murder.

The issue of violence against women is now on top of India's national agenda, with calls being made for a change in the country's justice system.

"The ineffectiveness of government agencies particularly the weakness of the criminal justice system is allowing the fear of law to disappear. People with money, with political power somehow are above the law and the message that goes to an average anti-social element is that they can do this sort of crime in the heart of the city and get away with it."

- Ved Marwah, a former New Delhi police commissioner

But would that alone be enough?

In India crime appears to be a growing problem and among India's major cities, New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes.

Official figures show that the number of reported rape cases in India rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.

In the country's capital, a woman is reportedly raped on average every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours. About 92 percent of those accused of rape are known to their victims, and more than half are under the age of 25.

We ask, how deep-rooted is this phenomenon in Indian society?

Inside Story, with presenter Ghida Fakhry speaks to guests Ved Marwah, a former New Delhi police commissioner; Aisha Gill, a reader in criminology at the University of Roehampton; and Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Centre for Social Research.


Rape capitals of the world in 2010:

  • South Africa – has one of the highest rates, with 277,000 reported cases. A survey by the Medical Research Council found that one in four men admitted to raping someone
  • United States – more than 84,000 rape cases were reported. Criminals face life behind bars, and in some states, castration is an option
  • India – reported a little more than 22,000 cases
  • United Kingdom – 16,000 cases were reported. A suspect found guilty, faces a maximum conviction of life in prison
  • Mexico – nearly 15,000 cases were reported. In some parts of the country, penalties may consist of a few hours in jail, or minor fines
  • Germany – counts the highest number of reported rape cases in Europe, with just under 8,000
  • Russia – almost 5,000 cases were reported, and the crime holds a punishment of 4 -10 years in jail

 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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