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India gang rape: Five suspects to be charged

2013-01-03 07:55:51

Five men in India are to be charged with the murder of a medical student who was gang-raped on a Delhi bus.

The 23-year-old victim died at the weekend from injuries she sustained during the 16 December attack, in an incident that sparked national outrage.

If convicted, the five could face the death penalty, which is rarely carried out in India.

A sixth suspect is reported to be under 18 and a juvenile. Police have ordered a bone test for him to confirm his age.

The charges will be presented at Delhi's Saket district court, but the accused are unlikely to be there in person.

Run-over attempt?

On Wednesday, thousands of women marched through Delhi to Rajghat - the memorial of India's independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi - to protest against the rape and Indian attitudes to women.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was among the protesters, and called for stringent anti-rape laws.

The victim's family has said it would have no objection if a new anti-rape law was named after her, as suggested by India's Junior Education Minister Shashi Tharoor.

Protests have been taking place every day since the gang rape with protesters expressing anger over attitudes to women in India and calling for changes to the laws on violence against women.

The woman and a male friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus.

Police said she was raped for nearly an hour, and both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars, then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

On Tuesday, police sources said the driver of the bus had tried to run her over after throwing her out, but she was saved by her friend, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

Helpline launched

The Indian government has been heavily criticised for failing to protect women.

According to official figures, a woman is raped in Delhi every 14 hours, while women across the country say they are frequently subjected to sexual intimidation and violence.

Since the bus attack, Delhi officials have announced a series of measures intended to make the city safer for women.

These include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains.

The government has also set up a committee under a retired Supreme Court judge to recommend changes to the anti-rape law.

A telephone helpline has been launched for women in distress, connected with police stations across the city.

But many of the protesters say that women are viewed as second-class citizens, and that a fundamental change in culture and attitudes, backed up by law, is needed to protect them.


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