Rape victim set on fire has died in India hospital

NEW DELHI, 7 Dec 2019:

A 23-year-old rape victim, who was set on fire by a group of men in northern India earlier this week on her way to testify in a court, has died in a New Delhi hospital, sources at the health centre said today.

The woman died last night after suffering a cardiac arrest in the Safdarjung Hospital – where she had arrived in an air ambulance a day earlier – the sources said.

She was set on fire on Thursday early morning – after setting off from her village in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh state towards the city of Raebareli, local police officer Gaurav Kumar said.

The victim was to testify in court over an alleged gang rape in December 2018. The main suspect in the gang-rape was released on bail last week.

The incident is the latest in rampant cases of violence against women in the country, which was rocked by anti-rape protests this week after another brutal gang rape and murder grabbed headlines.

The alleged victim identified her five attackers before being transferred to a hospital.

“The girl named five people and we have arrested them,” said Kumar, without providing further details, nor if the suspected rapist was among those detained.

Authorities have pledged to ensure exemplary punishments for the alleged perpetrators of the attack, which comes amid national outrage over the lack of protection for women against sexual violence.

“Defending the honour of the daughters and sisters of this state is a duty of the Uttar Pradesh government. Rape is a disgrace for a civilized society. Strong action will be taken against those accused of rape,” chief minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted on Thursday.

Yesterday, police in the southern state of Telangana shot dead four men who were accused of raping and murdering a 26-year-old veterinarian near Hyderabad city.

The suspects were killed days after police arrested them. According to police, the accused tried to run away, snatched police weapons and attacked a team of cops after being taken to the crime spot to look for the victim’s mobile phone and other objects in the area.

The killings of the rape suspects in police custody drew widespread applause even as human rights groups raised concerns police may have gone a step too far in what is being seen as an extra-judicial execution, amid protests in several Indian cities demanding stringent punishments for rapists to curb rampant violence against women in the country.

India was in 2018 ranked as the world’s most dangerous place for women due to the high risk of sexual violence, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey.

A report by India’s National Crime Records Bureau, which collects nationwide crime data across the country, said nearly 360,000 cases of violence against women were reported in 2017.

The report published last month, covering the latest year to be surveyed, suggests the number of such cases has been steadily increasing -with 338,000 such cases being reported in 2016 and around 320,000 cases in 2015.

“Cruelty by husband or his relatives” accounted for nearly 28% of the crimes against women while “assaults with intent to outrage her modesty” comprised nearly 22%, followed by “kidnapping and abduction” forming 20.5% and “rape” accounting 7% of reported cases.

Laws against sexual violence were strengthened in India after the 2012 Nirbhaya case, in which the victim was raped and tortured by six men on a moving bus in New Delhi, with the crime resulting in widespread protests and triggering a national debate on sexual violence.

At the time, it was hoped that the incident would be a turning point, but similar cases have continued to take place since.