Indian fury burns over another gruesome rape | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 22.04.2013
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Indian fury burns over another gruesome rape

Anger has flared in the Indian capital after the rape and torture of a five-year-old girl. Again, the authorities' handling of the incident, and allegations a bribe was offered, are a major source of consternation.

Police try to stop supporters of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as they march towards the residence of the chief of India's ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi during a protest rally in New Delhi April 21, 2013. Angry crowds demonstrated in the capital on Saturday after a five-year-old girl was allegedly raped, tortured and kept in captivity for 40 hours, reviving memories of last December's brutal assault on a woman that shook the country. (Photo: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Indien Proteste fünfjähriges Mädchen Vergewaltigung 21.04.2013

Fury over the rape and torture of a five-year-old girl in Delhi was apparent on the capital's streets on for the third consecutive day on Monday, as hundreds of angry protesters stormed barricades outside the police headquarters.

Angry youths scuffled with policemen and shouted slogans protesting at the rising number of rapes and demanding improved security for women.

The child, who was allegedly raped by her neighbor, has now started taking liquids and semi-solid food and her wounds have started to heal, doctors said on Monday.

The girl's alleged attacker, Manoj Kumar, 22, who is in police custody, claimed that a second person was also involved in the rape. A second suspect, Pradeep Kumar, who is no relation, has been arrested.

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar gestures while addressing a press conference (Photo: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

Police chief Kumar has resisted calls for him to step down after the bribery incident came to light

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also called the assault an example of "depraved behavior".

Old issue, renewed anger

Just last December, protesters had gathered in front of the seat of the government to demand justice for the medical student who was gang-raped in a moving bus that month. The accumulated anger is now spilling out again.

"This issue can't be hushed up. The police shouldn't wait for crimes to be committed. When children of migrants go missing, the police never file a report. They think they are dispensable," Kavita Krishnan, a rights activist from the All India Progressive Women's Association told DW.

The girls' rape has brought the issue of sexual harassment and authorities' failure to make the streets safe for women has, once again into focus.

"We can't take this anymore. There is a culture of sexual harassment prevalent in India, Devika Kumari, a protester told DW. "For women, commuting, going for a walk or traveling by bus, are unsafe."

The family of the five-year-old said they were offered 2,000 rupees (30 euros, 38 US dollars) by the police to keep silent about their daughter's suffering.

A supporter of Aam Aadmi Party shouts slogans as he and others are detained by police during a protest outside the residence of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (Photo: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Exasperation with the authorities is growing, with the behavior of police increasingly called into question

Such responses highlight the need for a root and branch change of police procedure, said Human Rights Watch director for South Asia, Meenakshi Ganguly.

"The recent cases of child sexual abuse, including that of the little girl in Delhi, have once again exposed the failure of police training and reform in India," said Ganguly. "Enacting strong laws are simply a first step, but it needs the government to focus urgently on implementation if it is serious about protecting children and other victims of sexual abuse."

Need for more female officers

Human rights campaigners said there had been a manifold increase in child rapes in India since 2001, from 2,113 cases to 7,112 in 2011. They warned that even this increase is likely to be misjudged because only a minority of cases are reported to the police. The problem is common to all forms of rape.

"When women do report rape charges to male police, they are frequently demeaned. Studies show that women are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are available," activist Ranjana Kaul said.

In a news conference in response to the incident, Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar resisted demands for his resignation and said he had suspended the policeman involved.

Indian police officials escort Pradeep Kumar (C) after a court appearance (Photo: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

A second suspect has now been arrested in connection with the rape and torture of the girl

Since the December gang rape, there has been a surge in cases of sexual violence against women. At that time, six people were charged for the murder. Four are on trial in a specially-convened fast-track court and face the death penalty. A fifth suspect was found dead in prison and a sixth, believed to be a juvenile, faces a trial in separate court.

Though India's parliament has just passed a strong anti-rape law recently making human trafficking, acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism criminal offences as well as expanding the definition of rape and sexual harassment, it has not proven an active deterrent.

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