Indian women activists and children shout slogans Tuesday condemning a recent act of alleged gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a city bus, in New Delhi, India. According to a media report on Sunday, the woman was raped by at least seven men inside a bus and later thrown out of the moving bus along with her male friend. Photo: CFP
India is shocked and outraged over the barbaric gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in the national capital late Sunday night even as Delhi Police Tuesday claimed to have arrested four of the seven accused.
The Indian Parliament this morning demanded a harsher punishment for the perpetrators of such heinous crimes, with Speaker of Lok Sabha (Lower House) Meira Kumar describing the "spine-chilling" incident as "shameful" for the entire society.
The woman student of Delhi University was allegedly gang-raped by six people on a moving bus which she and her boyfriend had boarded late Sunday night after watching a movie at a multiplex in the south of the national capital. The duo were later beaten up, stripped and thrown out of the bus. The victim is now fighting for her life at a hospital.
A total of 635 rape cases have been registered in 2012 as compared to 572 cases last year, according to official statistics.
"The rape figures in the Indian capital are far higher than other cities of comparable size," said K Dutt, a senior lawyer in Delhi. "I believe the root cause lies in the society. In fact, the unequal distribution of power between men and women in the male-dominated society is at the root of many rape cases."
Experts also say that males dominate over females, and this is true across India.
"This incident showed that the common belief that if a woman is accompanied by a man she is somewhat safe ... that's not true particularly in public transportation in the national capital," said sociology professor Basab Chowdhury.
Echoing similar sentiments, Derek O'Brien, a Member of Parliament and India's noted quizmaster, said, "It is not a women's issue. It is a male issue. Men have stopped behaving like human beings and started behaving like animals, worse than animals."
"The best way is to enforce stricter punishment for rapists and fast-track courts to deal with such crimes. The accused often take advantage of the long judicial process in this country and get away," said Dutt.
Another option is capital punishment for rapists or castration, said Mahesh Raghuraman, a psychologist who practices in the Indian capital. "Girls are not safe here. What can be more shameful in a democratic country like India? It's high time we deal with the menace strongly."
"A woman gets raped every 22 minutes in India," said Chowdhury. "We have to correct the root cause instead of just treating it as law and order problem."