Police in India have arrested six suspects for an alleged gang rape of a bus passenger, just four weeks after the horrific and similar gang rape of a female student in Delhi sparked protests across the country.
In this new incident, the 29-year-old woman was the only passenger on the bus traveling to her village in northern Punjab on Friday night.
According to The Guardian, Police officer Raj Jeet Singh said the woman told officers the driver refused to stop at her village and instead drove her to a secluded location.
There, it’s alleged that the driver and the conductor took the woman to a building where they were joined by five more men who took turns to rape her throughout the night, Singh said.
The woman was later dropped off at her village early on Saturday. Police arrrested six suspsects later that day and are now searching for another.
Gurmej Singh, deputy superintendent of police, has said all six men have admitted to raping the woman.
The a further separate incident, police arrested a 32-year-old man for allegedly raping a 9-year-old girl two weeks ago in the Ahmednagar district in western India, said The Associated Press [via thePress Trust of India.]
The child’s decomposing body was discovered on Friday. Police officer Sunita Thakare revealed that the 32-eyar-old suspect committed the crime seven mother after being released for raping and killing a girl in 2003.
The latest alleged gang-rape on a bus and the fact that a repeat offender went on to rape and kill a 9-year-old, will undoubtedly put further pressure on the Indian government and law enforcement institutions to effectively deal with its demonstrably endemic problem of sex crimes against women.
Women’s and student groups, Bollywood stars, ordinary citizens, legal advocates, media and and some politcians have been calling for stiffer rape laws, police reforms and a culturla shift in the way India views women.
AP quotes Seema Mustafa, a social issues writer who heads the Center for Policy Analysis think-tank, as saying:
“It’s a very deep malaise. This aspect of gender justice hasn’t been dealt with in our nation-building task. Police haven’t dealt with the issue severely in the past. The message that goes out is that the punishment doesn’t match the crime. Criminals think they can get away it.”
Meanwhile, the mother of Jyoti Singh Pandey, the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern brutally gang-raped and beaten on December 16 — and who subsequently died from multiple injuries — has spoken publicly for the first time.
The mother was quoted by The Times of India newpsaper as saying:
“Now the only thing that will satisfy us is to see them punished. For what they did to her, they deserve to die.”
The mother also said her daughter told her the youngest suspect had participated in the most vicious aspect of the rape.
Five men have been now been charged on multiple counts for the gang rape, kidnap and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey and could face the death penalty if convicted. The sixth suspect, believed to be 17-years-old, is likely to be tried in a juvenile court where the maximum sentence is three years in a reform facility, The Washington Post notes.
Some voices in India have called for a change in existing laws so that juveniles convicted of exceptionally brutal crimes can also face the death penalty.