The gang-rape of a medical student on a moving bus last week in New Delhi has triggered mass protests on the streets of India, with calls for change and justice for a young woman.
She was raped for about an hour and thrown out of the bus. She is recovering in the intensive care unit after undergoing multiple surgeries.Her injuries were so bad that she was only recently able to give a statement to the Indian authorities.
The 23-year-old told police six men took turns sexually assaulting her. The suspects allegedly used a metal rod to assault the victim and her friend.
Angry Indians are hitting the streets, defying a ban on mass demonstrations. Police have been using tear gas and water cannon against the protesters.
So, just how widespread a problem is sexual abuse against women in India?
There are reports that suggest that in India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes.
More than 24,000 rape cases in the country were reported last year alone, of which 570 were reported in the Indian capital, where already this year 635 rape cases have been registered. The legal news service Trust Law says India is the worst country in the G20 to be a woman. It says women and girls continue to be sold, married off at a young age, exploited and abused as domestic slaves.
The number of crimes recorded against women, including kidnapping, abduction, and human trafficking exceeds 2.5 million.
Many activists say Indians are protesting against what they say is a culture of impunity.
There are 40,000 pending rape cases in the country and survivors have to wait years for their cases to be heard – even then the conviction rate is just 34.6 percent – according to the National Crimes Record Bureau.
The Indian Penal Code lists punishments of up to life behind bars, but those convicted are often let off after serving a short sentence.
Undercover reporters in India gathered evidence of how the police in the Delhi region view rape survivors. The investigation published by the Indian weekly Tehelka exposed how the system often blames the survivors.
Senior police officers were caught on hidden camera talking about survivors, saying: “She asked for it”; “It’s all about money”; “They have made it a business”; “It’s consensual most of the time”.
Seventeen officers in over a dozen police stations were caught on spy cameras blaming everything from revealing clothes to having boyfriends or going to pubs as the main reasons for rape.
The investigators came to the conclusion that the officers encountered do not fulfil the basic standard of policing, which requires investigating a case without any cultural, class or gender bias.