Thousands of women took part in a rally in Delhi today as protests continue over the recent gang rape, and subsequent death, of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student.
On Wednesday morning, the “Women Dignity March” silently progressed to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial — Rajghat — and ended in a prayer session for the victim at the historical protest site, said the BBC.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was among the protesters who marched. Many carried placards calling for an end to sexual assaults on women. Juhi Kahn, a member of the National Commission for Women, said:
“We are marching to create awareness among people that women should be respected. Because a woman is a mother, a woman is a sister, she is a wife and she is a daughter.”
The gang rape and later death of the young student from multiple injuries sustained during a vicious attack on December 16 on a Delhi bus set off a firestorm of outraged protests in Delhi, Manipur, and other parts of India.
The extremity of it — the victim was raped by six men, beaten and assaulted with iron rods, stripped, and thrown off a moving bus with a male companion — has sent shock waves of not only across India but around the world.
Delhi police are expected to formally charge five of six arrested suspects with murder this Thursday. The sixth suspect is reported to be under 18 and thus considered a minor. Police have ordered a bone test to verify the suspect’s age, AP reports.
New Delhi police spokesman, Rajan Bhagat, has said that, if the suspects are convicted, the death penalty is likely. The Bar Association of lawyers has decided against defending the six suspects due to the severity of the crime, but the court is expected to appoint defense attorneys for them, AP notes.
Still unidentified publicly, the victim is referred to by a variety of names in the Indian press: “Damini”,”Amanat”, “India’s Daughter,” and “Braveheart,” to name a few.
Amid growing calls [by some] for the victim’s name to be revealed, on New Year’s Day Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor, wrote on Twitter:
“Wondering what interest is served by continuing anonymity of the Delhi gang rape victim. Why not name and honour her as a real person with own identity?”
“Unless her parents object, she should be honoured and the revised anti-rape law named after her. She was a human being with a name, not just a symbol.”
India’s national media are reporting that the Delhi gang-rape victim’s family have said they have no objection to her name being revealed or to anti-rape law being named after their family member.
The New Delhi Post quotes the victim’s 2o-year-old brother as saying “we have no objection to revealing her name, adding,”we also have no objection if the [revised anti-rape] law is named after her. It will be an honour for my sister.”
On Wednesday, the victim’s Uncle, Suresh Singh, told the Associated Press, “if the government can’t punish them, give the rapists to the people. The people will settle the scores with them.”
Meanwhile, a petition has been submitted to strike six state lawmakers facing rape prosecutions and two national parliamentarians facing leser sexual charges from office, has been submitted and will be heard on Thursday.