The 2012 gang rape and murder that shocked India

The ordeal of a young woman who was gang raped and killed on a bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012 has shocked India and the world and highlighted the scourge of sex crimes against women.

In the run-up to the 10th anniversary, AFP takes a look at the events of that evening and their aftermath.

– Gang rape in India: what happened –

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

Six attackers knocked the male friend unconscious and dragged Singh to the back of the vehicle, where they raped her and assaulted her with a metal pole as the bus looped through Delhi’s dark streets.

After about an hour, she and the boyfriend were pronounced dead.

Singh survived long enough to identify her attackers, but died of her internal injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.

ALSO READ: Indian Police Officer Accused of Raping Alleged Child Gang Rape Victim

Dubbed “Nirbhaya” (“fearless”) by the Indian media, she has become a symbol of the socially conservative country’s failure to combat sexual violence against women.

– Investigation –

Police located the bus driver and arrested him and three others on December 18. The remaining two attackers were arrested within a week.

The five adults and one juvenile were charged with 13 offenses by summary court in February 2013.

A month later, the main defendant, Ram Singh, was found dead in his prison cell. Officials said he killed himself, but his family and attorney claimed he was murdered.

In August this year, the youth was found guilty of rape and murder and sentenced to three years in a correctional facility.

The four remaining adults were found guilty by a summary court the following month and sentenced to death.

They were hanged in 2020 after several years of court appeals.

– victims and rapists –

Before the attack, Singh’s father moved the family from a village to the bustling capital and found work as a baggage handler at Delhi Airport.

Her parents hoped that she would become the first specialist in the family, and all of her financial resources went towards her studies at the College of Physiotherapy.

To supplement her family’s meager income, she worked in a call center and tutored children.

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The men on the bus – Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta – lived in a slum, including a bus cleaner, a fitness assistant, a fruit seller and a high school dropout.

– Sexual Violence –

India recorded 31,677 rape cases last year, an average of 86 per day, according to the latest official crime statistics — a nearly 13 percent increase from 2020.

But there are likely many more victims too scared to come forward.

Huge and sometimes violent demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people broke out in Delhi and elsewhere over Singh’s fall.

It also sparked a lot of self-reflection in India, where patriarchal attitudes still prevail and girls are often seen as a financial burden. Most marriages are arranged.

Justice can be elusive when women – if they have the courage to come forward – are often blamed for the violence they suffer. Lower caste girls and women suffer disproportionately.

– Heavier penalties –

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

Several new sex offenses were introduced, including stalking and prison terms for officers who fail to report rape.

ALSO READ: How DNA Evidence Closed Cold Gang Rape and Robbery Case After 5 Years

More surveillance cameras and street lights have been installed, and there are centers for rape survivors to access legal and medical help.

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

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