Indian Gang Rape Victim, 17, Commits Suicide
A 17-year-old girl in India committed suicide by drinking poison on Wednesday, following a gang rape by at least three men back in November. The teen named the three alleged rapists, who have since been arrested by police, in her suicide note and blamed them for causing her death.
According to CNN, the girl was allegedly gang raped on November 13, during the Hindu festival of Diwali. According to her family, police did not register a formal complaint until two weeks later and pressured the girl not to press charges. Two officers involved in the case have since been fired, while a third has been suspended, over the mishandling.
This anonymous girl’s death is a stunning blow just a week after a 23-year-old woman was viciously gang raped on a bus in New Delhi. On December 16, the victim and her 28-year-old male friend were riding home on the bus after seeing a movie when they were attacked by six men, beaten with iron rods and robbed. Over the course of an hour, she was gang raped by six men, beforee she and her friend were both thrown off the moving bus and dumped on the side of the road. She’s suffered a brain injury, had to have both her small and large intestines removed, and is battling an infection in her lungs. She had three abdominal operations and a heart attack following the gang rape; she was described as “practically dead” when she was admitted into the hopsital. Earlier this week, the victim was flown out of an ICU at a hospital in India to Singapore for better medical treatment. [UPDATE: She has sadly since died from her injuries.]
Anti-violence against women protests have exploded in India following the attack, which actually shut down Delhi for several days. (The protests prompted the son of the Indian president to assholishly dismiss the protesters as “highly dented and painted.”) Despite hollow claims by government officials that the safety of Indian women is their highest priority, police have responded brutally to the protests, beating activists and firing tear gas and water cannons.
India is taking small steps to address its rape culture. The New York Daily News reports that the Prime Minister has established two committees, one to assess the current process of prosecuting sexual assaults and another to study what sort of lapses in safety (… and judgment … and humanity) have occurred that would have allowed a woman to be gang raped and thrown from a moving city bus. The first report is to be ready in three months.
But there’s still far too much to go. The New York Times noted months ago that when reporting on rape, the Indian media tends to focus on “shame” brought upon the victim instead of the scourge of violence against women. Sexual assault is considered something women bring upon themselves by not being careful, not a violent crime committed by rapists. It’s not too surprising, then, that following the gang rape on the bus a police chief in India suggested that women carry around chili powder to protect themselves from rapists. The government has also announced a plan to “name and shame” convicted sex offenders by publishing their names, photographs and addresses, but it is hard to see how that will help. Presently, many rapes go unreported and even ones that do can take years to bring to justice. Obviously the police in India need to be forced by the government to take the crime of sexual assault more seriously.
As of this morning, the hospital in Singapore reported the 23-year-old victim is still in “extremely critical condition.”