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India gang-rape victim's friend recounts attack


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A student shouts slogans seeking punishment for rapists of the 23-year-old woman, during a protest in Bangalore, Jan 4, 2013. — Photo by AP

NEW DELHI: The suffering of a university student and her male friend who were brutally attacked aboard a bus in India's capital did not end after the woman was gang-raped and both were savagely beaten for 2 1/2 hours. Dumped naked on a roadside, the pair encountered shocking apathy as passersby offered only cursory looks and police debated jurisdiction for 30 minutes before taking them to a hospital, where the man received no treatment as he sat without clothes on the floor for hours, the friend recounted in a television interview.

The interview Friday marked the first time the man, who has not been named, has spoken publicly about the Dec 16 attack in New Delhi.

The attack has outraged Indians and led to calls for tougher rape laws and reforms of a police culture that often blames rape victims and refuses to file charges against accused attackers. The nation's top law enforcement official said the country needs to crack down on crimes against women with "an iron hand".

The 23-year-old woman died last weekend from massive internal injuries suffered during the attack. Authorities charged five men with her murder and rape and were holding a sixth suspect believed to be a juvenile. A hearing in the case was scheduled for Saturday.

On the night of the attack, the woman and her companion had just finished watching the movie "Life of Pi" at an upscale mall and were looking for a ride home. An autorickshaw driver declined to take them, so they boarded the private bus with the six assailants inside, the companion told the Indian TV station Zee News.

Authorities have not named the man because of the sensitivity of the case. Zee News also declined to give his name, although it did show his face during the interview. The man has a broken leg and was sitting in a wheelchair during the interview.

After a while, the men on the bus starting harassing and attacking the pair, he said.

"I gave a tough fight to three of them. I punched them hard. But then two others hit me with an iron rod," he said. The woman tried to call the police using her mobile phone, but the men took it away from her, he said. They then took her to the rear seats of the bus and raped her.

"The attack was so brutal I can't even tell you...even animals don't behave like that," the man said.

Afterward, he overheard some of the attackers saying the woman was dead, he said.

The men then dumped their bleeding and naked bodies under an overpass. The woman's companion waved to passersby on bikes, in autorickshaws and in cars for help, but no one stopped. "They slowed down, looked at our naked bodies and left," he said.

"My friend was grievously injured and bleeding profusely," he said. "Cars, autos and bikes slowed down and sped away. I kept waving for help. The ones who stopped stared at us, discussing what could have happened. Nobody did anything."

After about 20 minutes, three police vans arrived, but the officers argued over who had jurisdiction over the crime as the man pleaded for clothes and an ambulance, he said.

Finally, he said, they were taken to a hospital.

"When we reached the hospital, I sat without clothes on the floor for a long time even as my friend was taken inside for treatment," he said.

The man said he was given no medical care. He then spent four days at the police station helping police investigate the crime. He said he visited his friend in the hospital, told her the attackers were arrested and promised to fight for her.

He said his friend was determined to see that the attackers were punished. "She gave all details of the crime to the magistrate — things we can't even talk about," he said. "She told me that the culprits should be burnt alive."

The man said he gave the TV interview because he hopes it will encourage rape victims to come forward and speak about their ordeals without shame.

"She has awakened us all by her courage," he said of his friend, who died at a Singapore hospital after being flown there for treatment. "People should move ahead in the struggle to prevent a similar crime happening again as a tribute to her."

Most people in India are reluctant to get involved in police business because once they become witnesses, they can be dragged into legal cases that can go on for years. Also, Indian police are often seen less as protectors and more as harassers.

On Friday, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said crimes against women and marginalised sections of society are increasing, and it is the government's responsibility to stop them.

"This needs to be curbed by an iron hand," he told a conference of state officials from across India that was called to discuss how to protect women.

He called for changes in the law and the way police investigate cases so justice can be swiftly delivered. Many rape cases are bogged down in India's overburdened and sluggish court system for years.

"We need a reappraisal of the entire system," he said.

In the wake of the rape, several petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court to take an active role in the issue of women's safety.

On Friday, the court dismissed a petition asking it to suspend Indian lawmakers accused of crimes against women, saying it doesn't have jurisdiction, according to the Press Trust of India. The Association for Democratic Reforms, an organisation that tracks officials' criminal records, said six state lawmakers are facing rape prosecutions and two national parliamentarians are facing charges of crimes against women that fall short of rape.

However, the court did agree to look into the widespread creation of more fast-track courts for accused rapists across the country.

Comments (30) Closed

A Filth Hater Jan 07, 2013 10:46am
Nudity is 90% reason behind rapes......if filth in movies,tv and internet is not shown, then there would be a decline in rapes everywhere in the world!....believe me....though rapes won't stop...but atleast the mindset of new generation of people would not get polluted with cheapness!
Lucelle Jan 07, 2013 12:00pm
This is truly sad...these barbarians should be dealt with in the harshest way humanly possible...they should be made an example to deter other barbarians out there
Kamran Jan 07, 2013 04:21am
Achin S Jan 07, 2013 04:26am
The whole problem is that the Indian subcontinent has a culture where we suppress the girl child and the male child is spoilt completely.He is treated like a laat sahib..the fault is of the parents.I was lucky,my parents never spoilt me and taught me that women are ladies and should be respected and protected.
AcclaimedMan Jan 06, 2013 02:31pm
Well said !!!
AcclaimedMan Jan 06, 2013 02:31pm
That's right !!!
yahya Khan Jan 05, 2013 07:35am
The result of the mushrooming of TV channels in India promoting more and more nudity.
nitesh Jan 05, 2013 07:42am
AcclaimedMan Jan 06, 2013 02:33pm
We never learned good things from the British, did we?
Akbaruddin Jan 05, 2013 08:24am
If there is no mushrooming of news channels in Pakistan promoting nudity why are rapes happening in Pakistan too? Criminals exist in every society. There is no country that does not need a police department.
AcclaimedMan Jan 06, 2013 02:36pm
I will disagree with it. If nudity was the issue, then in UK, USA, Canada, Japan, and elsewhere it would have been so amplified crimes like this in India or any other place would have dwarfed. But that was not the case, is it? There is definitely wrong with the system, corruption and inefficient policing have to be blamed for that !!!
ambreen tajammal Jan 05, 2013 09:50am
it is happening all over the world.we are silent and we don't even bother there any place where women feel themselves under protection??? any one can tell parents can allow their daughters to study when there is no one to look after them .why she was allowed to stay outside from her it freedom?. if it is freedom than secure their freedom please
Zeeshan Ahmed Khan Jan 05, 2013 10:38am
Allah, help the innocent people around the world and burn the corrupt / evil people. Death Penalty still an easy way out for these animals.
sparkysingh Jan 05, 2013 10:56am
How is nudity on TV related to the rape case? I happily confess to have watched several many adult movies with both full female and male nudity yet it hasn't given rise to any urge to rape either in me. I hope you will share your findings in this matter too. The real problem is the Indian mentality that doesnt see women as a full humanbeing with full authority on their own lives. The level of misogyny varies from seeing women as cattle to the ultra patronising way in which middle class families view their daughters as 'amaanat' without realizing how that harms the identity of their daughter. Daughters are nobody's amaanat and nobody's Jagir. The day every man in India 'gets' that girls are as much a full humanbeing as themselves the rapes would stop. The alternative to waiting for this education to happen is employing draconian talibanic bans on womens's participation in every spere of life. No, for now we are just working on getting better policing in our cities and hope the social education will happen sooner rather than later.
gaurav Jan 05, 2013 11:13am
I am ashamed to say that on many occasions I have seen people crying on the streets (hunger, beatings, bad health, rape?) but i never stopped to check. My mindset has been what I suspect is of many others - Kyun lafraye mein paru. I realize this can be my sister, friend or wife. I solemnly affirm however , i will change and not be insensitive going forward.
saj Jan 05, 2013 11:59am
Great analysis yahya if nudity on television is the cause of rapes here in the uk women should be getting raped by the bus load. rape is caused by men not having respect for women
Josh Jan 05, 2013 12:04pm
Exactly the point.
Haider Jan 05, 2013 12:53pm
Do these channels teach how to beat and gang rape women?! Its like saying that gory movies like Saw and Texas Chainsaw Massacre are the reason behind higher crime rates!
sdf Jan 05, 2013 01:42pm
It depends on social upbringing how you were raised, your friends etc. Some people do not have that choice and little butter is enough for them to lit the fire.
Sudeep Kanjilal Jan 05, 2013 02:01pm
There was no TV channel in India 25 years ago - do you mean there was no rape in India, Pakistan and rest of the world before that? Lets not look for easy explanations and excuses. It boils down to a rotten patriarchal system that promotes the view that women are less than equal, a kpletocracy that buys votes and then ignores its responsibility to provide basic security (basic anything) and a apathetic middle class that does not bother to vote.
Poison Jan 05, 2013 02:04pm
How nudity is related to rape? ...3 year daughter raped by her own father according to you ...she ought to be raped coz she got nude in front of her father... You sound as disgusting as the thought I mentioned above...rape has nothing to do eith women ...its all in male mindset stop blaming and start taking responsibility,,
ambreen tajammal jarral Jan 05, 2013 02:15pm
it is happening all over the world.we are silent and we don
Amarnath Jan 05, 2013 02:21pm
Abuse against women existed before TV channels came to India. Don't know how it is in your country.
Imran Jan 05, 2013 03:13pm
I think in the internet age you can hardly blame TV channels.
Shahid Jan 05, 2013 05:12pm
If this is the spirit, things are bound to change although it may take awhile.
Atif Jan 05, 2013 05:48pm
gaurave, it is not because the people are insensitive but because the system around us actually makes the life miserable of those who help. I cannot say about India as I never been there but in Pakistan, the name of the police sends shivers down the spine of poor and middle class people. I hope law enforcement agencies would be better in India. Indeed it was a very painful incident. I just cant imagine the horror and pain that girl faced at that night. really sad..
akhter husain Jan 06, 2013 02:59pm
I wonder if we,as people are civilized even in this century.Such criminals do not understand the difference between human and animal.Only proper training and harsh,quick punishment can help eradicate such mentality.
Subterraneo Jan 06, 2013 03:34am
The chief deterrent is the fear of repercussions, both from the culprits and the police. There is some good in people, but how would a good person know whether two naked people on the street are asking him to stop because they genuinely need help, or because they are trying to set them up for a robbery. In the western world, the obvious alternative is to inform the police. It is obvious why that is not an alternative in the sub-continent.
JAVED Jan 06, 2013 03:56am
Fahad Jan 06, 2013 05:29am
Very much needed reaction by Indian Society!