Saturday, March 16, 2013

India: Update--Our Prayers, Empathy Go Out to the Married Swiss National, 40, Gang-Raped in MP

As a follow-up to my posting of earlier today (March 16), the married Swiss tourist, 40, who was gang-raped by up to eight assailants in Madhya Pradesh (MP) on Friday (March 15), has painted an increasingly dark cloud over a country known all too well for its leniency in cases of sexual violence against women.

The victim and her husband, who were set upon while camping by a large group of men, were robbed of $185 while en-route to Agra, and then faced the emotional devastation of being violated repeatedly while her husband was tied up and forced to watch her attackers.

The brutal attack comes just months after thousands took to the streets to protest against India’s treatment of women following December 16, fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a bus in New Delhi.

After the young woman subsequently died of internal injuries in a Singapore hospital two weeks later, her father pleaded that her name be remembered so that she did not die in vain, although it is a law in India (as in most countries) that the identities of rape victims not be released.

COMMENT: As said yesterday, we wish the victim and her husband our prayers, compassion, understanding and justice in the hope that the actual assailants are convicted and sentenced in this horrific crime.

Although no names have been released to the public, reportedly eight suspects have been remanded into custody for the traumatizing attack.

Our readers should keep in mind that in 2003, a female Swiss diplomat, 36, was abducted in the car park of a popular New Delhi auditorium, driven away by two men and gang-raped. She was released a short time later by her assailants, although no one was ever arrested or convicted for the attack.

Although one woman is raped every 20 minutes in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, police estimate that only four out of 10 rapes are ever reported, largely due to the fact that victims fear being shamed by their families far more than prosecuting their assailants.
 
The central government has been under enormous pressure to step up legal protection for women following the December 2012 gang-rape of a medical student who died after being savagely raped by six men on a city bus.

Given the fact that most rapists in India rarely get long prison sentences for acts of sexual violence, fortuitously, one of the six accused rapists held in the murder of the medical student in December was found hanged in his high-security jail cell last week.

Under a new bill approved by India’s cabinet earlier in the week, rapists will now face a minimum 20-year jail term and the death penalty if the victim dies from her injuries or is left in a persistent vegetative state.