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Candlelight vigil held for 2012 Delhi gang-rape, murder victim

#Candlelight #vigil #held #Delhi #gangrape #murder #victim

Scores of activists and campaigners held a candlelight vigil on Friday for Jyoti Singh, the young woman who was brutally gang-raped and murdered on a New Delhi bus 10 years ago.

The horrific crime appalled India and the world and shone a spotlight on the scourge of sexual crimes against women.

The crowd at the vigil, led by Singh’s parents Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh, paid silent tribute and sought justice for the families of other rape victims.

“Nothing has changed in the last 10 years. I have been continuously raising my voice against crime against women but things haven’t improved,” Devi, 57, told reporters.

“Small girls are being raped. How can we say things have changed… Things have changed only on paper.”

India registered 31,677 cases of rape in 2021, an average of 86 a day, according to the latest government crime report. Government figures show there were 24,923 rape cases in the year Singh was killed.

Singh, 23, was returning home from watching “Life of Pi” at the cinema with a male friend when they boarded a bus on the evening of Sunday December 16, 2012.

Six assailants knocked out her male friend and dragged Singh to the back of the bus, where they raped and assaulted her with a metal rod.

She and her friend were dumped for dead about an hour later.

Singh survived long enough to identify her six attackers but died a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.

Five adults and a juvenile were charged with 13 offences two months later, and four men were hanged in 2020.

The main accused was found dead in his prison cell a month after he was charged in what officials suspected was a suicide, although his family and lawyer alleged he was murdered.

The youngest of those charged spent three years in a juvenile detention centre.

Singh was dubbed “Nirbhaya” (“fearless”) by the Indian media and became a symbol of the socially conservative country’s failure to tackle sexual violence against women.

Her death sparked huge, and at times violent, demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people in Delhi and elsewhere.

It led to much soul-searching in a country where patriarchal attitudes still rule and girls are often seen as a financial burden.

Under pressure, the government introduced harsher penalties for rapists and the death penalty for repeat offenders.

Several new sexual offences were also introduced, including for stalking and jail sentences for officials who failed to register rape complaints.

More CCTV cameras and street lights have been installed, and there are centres where rape survivors can access legal and medical help.

However, tens of thousands of rape cases remain stuck in India’s overburdened legal system and horrific crimes against women continue to be reported.

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