January 4, 2013

Anger over rape, death may bring change in India

The attack on a student who died over the weekend triggers signs of a turning point.

By RAVI NESSMAN and ASHOK SHARMA The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Indians gather for a candlelight vigil in memory of a gang-rape victim in New Delhi on Thursday. Five men face charges in the gang rape and death of a woman last month in India’s capital.

The Associated Press

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Bikram Singh Brahma, center, a leader of India’s ruling Congress party, is slapped by a woman in the village of Santipur, India, on Thursday. Police said he was visiting the village when he entered a woman’s house at 2 a.m. and raped her.

The Associated Press

Many cases never even get to court because of intense social pressure against families reporting sexual assaults, which are often blamed on the female victims. When women do report rapes, police often refuse to file charges and pressure the victims to reach a compromise with their attackers.

To try to rectify that, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde announced a special recruitment drive for women police officers Thursday and ordered every police station in the capital to be staffed by at least nine female officers to make them more attentive to women's needs.

In a sign attitudes might be changing, and that even powerful men are being held accountable, police in the northeastern state of Assam arrested a leader of the ruling Congress party Thursday on accusations he raped a woman in a village in the early hours of the morning.

Footage on Indian television showed the extraordinary scene of local women surrounding the man, ripping off his shirt and repeatedly slapping him across the face.

Police said the man, Bikram Singh Brahma, was visiting the village of Santipur on the Bhutan border when he entered a woman's house and raped her at 2 a.m. Amid the screams, villagers ran to the home and captured the man, said G.P. Singh, a senior police officer in the area.

"We are taking this issue very seriously," Singh said.

 

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