• Sun. Mar 26th, 2023

The 2012 gang rape and murder that shocked India


Dec 16, 2022 , , , ,

Indian students and activists shout slogans as they carry torches at India Gate during a protest following the gang-rape of a student in New Delhi, Dec 19, 2012.— AFP
Indian students and activists shout slogans as they carry torches at India Gate during a protest following the gang-rape of a student in New Delhi, Dec 19, 2012.— AFP

NEW DELHI: The ordeal of young women gang-raped and killed on a Delhi bus on December 16, 2012 appalled India and the world and shone a spotlight on the scourge of sexual crimes against women.

Ahead of the 10th anniversary, AFP looks at the events of that evening and their consequences.

What happened

Jyoti Singh, 23, was returning home from watching “Life of Pi” at the cinema with a male friend when they boarded a bus on the evening of Sunday December 16, 2012.

Six assailants knocked out the male friend and dragged Singh to the back of the vehicle where they raped and assaulted her with a metal rod while the bus drove loops around Delhi’s dark streets.

After around an hour, she and the friend were dumped for dead.

Singh survived long enough to identify her attackers but died a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital from her internal injuries.

She was dubbed “Nirbhaya” (“fearless”) by the Indian media and became a symbol of the socially conservative country´s failure to tackle sexual violence against women.


Police tracked down the driver of the bus and arrested him and three others on December 18. The remaining two attackers were arrested within a week.

The five adults and one juvenile were charged with 13 offences in February 2013 by a fast-track court.

A month later, the main accused Ram Singh was found dead in his prison cell. Officials said he killed himself, but his family and lawyer alleged he was murdered.

That August, the juvenile was found guilty of rape and murder and sentenced to three years in a correctional facility.

The four remaining adults were found guilty and sentenced to death the following month in a fast-track court.

They were hanged in 2020 after several years of legal appeals.

Victim and rapists

Before the attack, Singh’s father moved the family from a village to the bustling capital and found work as a baggage-handler at Delhi airport.

Her parents hoped she would become the first professional in the family, and all their financial resources were channelled into her studies at physiotherapy college.

To supplement her family’s meagre income, she worked at a call centre and gave private lessons to children.

The men on the bus — Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta — lived in a slum and included a bus cleaner, a gym assistant, a fruit seller and a school dropout.

Sexual violence

India registered 31,677 rape cases last year, an average of 86 a day, according to the latest official criminal statistics — a near-13% increase on 2020.

But there are probably many more victims too scared to come forward.

Huge and at times violent demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people broke out in Delhi and elsewhere over Singh´s case.

It also sparked much soul-searching in India, where patriarchal attitudes still rule and girls are often seen as a financial burden. Most marriages are arranged.

Justice can be elusive when women — if they have the courage to come forward — are often blamed for violence they suffer. Lower-caste girls and women suffer disproportionately.

Tougher penalties

Under pressure, the government introduced harsher penalties for rapists and the death penalty for repeat offenders.

Several new sexual offences were introduced including for stalking and provision for jail sentences for officials who fail to register rape complaints.

More CCTV cameras and street lights were installed, and there are centres for rape survivors where they can access legal and medical help.

But tens of thousands of rape cases remain stuck in India’s overburdened legal system, and horrific crimes against women continue to be reported.

Source link

Leave a Reply