After a horrific rape in Delhi this weekend, protestors in India are demanding accountability from the government:
The police said the men were looking for some fun. They had been drinking, having a party, and decided to go on a joy ride. They began circling the capital in a private bus, the police said, when they spotted a couple looking for a ride home. They waved the man and woman onboard and charged them each 36 cents.
And then, the police said, the men beat the couple with an iron rod and repeatedly raped the woman as the bus circled the city. The woman suffered severe injuries to her head and intestines and required multiple operations, local news media reported, indicators of an assault so savage that India’s capital on Tuesday was shaking with public outrage. Protesters encircled a local police station and blocked a major highway. India’s Parliament erupted in angry protests and condemnation.
Rape cases in India more than doubled between 1990 and 2008, and Delhi–where there were 600 reported rapes last year and no doubt many more in reality–is called the country’s “rape capital.” Even as the country reacted to this weekend’s assault, news broke of another gang-rape–of a 15-year-old girl.
Protests are planned over the next few days. (And protestors have already clashed with police–who fired a water cannon at them in one incident.) In response to the public outrage, members of parliament have called for convicted rapists to receive the death penalty–a call echoed by the police chief. Officials say immediate security steps–like a crackdown on buses having tinted glass and heavy curtains–will be taken.
More fundamentally though, protesters are demanding a change in attitudes among the authorities. A student who addressed the crowd said:
“Women are told that if they go out late at night, they will be raped. As a woman I want to say that we are also human beings and you need to treat us as human beings. You will need to give us equal rights. It is a question of our fundamental rights…We want to be able to go out in Delhi at midnight if we want.”