Of all human atrocities committed in the world, a rape and torture of a 5 year old girl tops the list. As India tries to find effective ways of implementing the new stricter rape laws, another rape has occurred fueling the anger many women and men have against the government for allowing it to happen. A second suspect Monday was arrested in the rape of a 5 year old girl who was found in a locked room according to New Delhi police as a new wave of protests ramp up against the Indian authorities handle of sex crimes. Pradeep Kumar, a 19 year old factory worker, was arrested Monday and after questioning lead to Manoj Kumar, 24, who was arrested Saturday in Bihar and flown back to Delhi according to the Associated Press. The two men are not related. The men are accused of abducting, raping and attempted murder of the 5 year old who went missing April 15 and found two days later by neighbors who hear her crying in the same New Delhi building where she lives with her family. The police said the girl was left for dead and was found alone.
The girl was in critical condition on Thursday when she was transferred from a local hospital to a large government run hospital where the girl on Monday was responding well and her condition stabilized. D.K. Sharma, medical superintendent of the hospital in New Delhi said, “She is much better today and her wounds are healing well.” The attack came four months after the fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus and a few month after a female tourist was attacked and raped while on vacation. For the third day, protests have erupted in Delhi with many supporters of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party breaking through police cordon and reaching the Parliamentary gates shouting slogans against the handling of the case AP reports. The police arrested several of the protestors and confirmed that they are being detained at a nearby police station then released in a few hours. Another group of a 100 women protested near another area of Parliament directing their protest against the Delhi police who failed to act after the girl was reported missing. The protestors want the police chief removed from office and the police accused of failing to act dismissed.
The Delhi police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar admitted Monday that police did not handle the situation properly. G. Ananthapadmanabhan, head of the Indian chapter of the human rights group Amnesty International, said, “The police must be held accountable for their shocking levels of apathy. They urgently need to review police processes to ensure that all cases of rape and sexual violence – not just those highlighted by the media – are fully and promptly investigated. Those who fail to do their job must be held accountable.” Kumar himself had this to say,”There have been shortfalls, so the station house officer and his deputy have been suspended.” Kumar also commented on that since the December gang rape case, the reported number of complaints about rape and molestation have risen in numbers in the city after instructions were given to police and the number of solved crimes that led to arrests have also increased AP reports. However, sexual violence against women and children can be seen in the Indian newspapers everyday with women feeling insecure about leaving their homes. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has this to say on Sunday at a civil servant meeting,”The gruesome assault on the little girl a few days back reminds us once again of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity from our society.” Activists say the laws passed in response to the December gang rape are not enough as the government must ensure police will crack down on crimes against women.
The Indian Parliament Thursday passed a law to protect women against sexual violence in response to the fatal December gang rape and beating of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi reports the Associated Press. The recent rape and robbery of a Swiss couple in Madhya Pradesh less than a week after the law’s passage has also sparked controversy over the safety of Indian women and for that matter any women who travels outside India’s tourist hot spots. The law once signed by the president and becomes official will make stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment a crime as well as provide for the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that cause fatal injuries to the victim. It will also be a crime for police officers who refuse to open cases for sexual attack complaints. Activist see the law as a milestone in women’s rights even though many are concerned about how effectively the law will be enforced considering the country’s poor record of law enforcement. As Vrinda Grover, a senior lawyer and women’s rights activist explains, “It’s a significant moment. We have taken many steps forward. Much, much more needs to be done.” The bill passed the upper house Thursday two day after the lower house approved it. The reason the law passed so quickly is in response to the Dec. 16 gang rape fatality which sparked nationwide protest calling for the government to take action to protect women. The government set up a panel to recommend changes to Indian laws governing crimes against women and the Cabinet then passed an ordinance adding int he suggestion from the panel, bu it was up to Parliament to pass a law by the next moth before the ordinance expire leading many lawmakers complaining about the law being rushed through without discussion or debate. Many see the bill as the most stringent effort to curb violence against women in India ever, while others see it as only a stepping stone as many problems still remain such as the government’s refusal to see marital rape as a crime. Ranjana Kumari, a women’s activist and director of the Center for Social Research, explained, “If bodily integrity is the issue, and consent is the issue, than certainly rape in marriage should be included.” She also takes issue with the 10 year maximum sentence for acid attacks too light and the government’s decision to make 18 the age of consent is out of touch with the sexual mores. As the Associated Press reports, Kumari does see it as a step in the right diretion but fears an insensitive police force and overburdened judiciar could make it diffuclt to enforce stating, “The implementation remains the larger challenge.”
Indian officials are now claiming that the Swiss tourist and her husband could be partially to blame for the attack and gang rape that occurred in a remote wooded area in Madhya Pradesh last week because the couple did not ask about the safety of the region according to the Huff Post. On Friday, the couple pitched a tend in the forest in Madhya Pradesh while on a cycling trip, according to the Associated Press, when around 9:30 p.m. a group of men beat up the husband, tied him to a tree, gang raped the wife and robbed the pair, police confirmed. On Sunday, police spokesman Avnesh Kumar Budholiya during a press conference said the tourists are partially to blame for the assault due to the fact they didn’t consult the local police about the area before traveling through the area reports the Independent. Budholiya explained,”No one stops there. Why did they choose that place? They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They would have passed a police station on the way to the area they camped. They should have stopped and asked about places to sleep.” Another official, Umashankar Gupta the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh explains, “The rape of the Swiss national is unfortunate but foreign travelers should inform the police about their movement so they can be provided with adequate protection. They often don’t follow the state’s rules.”
The Times also reported that Madhya Pradesh has one of the highest rates of crimes against women in the country which the Swiss tourists were unaware of. A senior official from the region also has this to say: “They apparently lost track and took a wrong turn and decided to halt for the night by the side of a village brook little realizing that the district with 85:100 men to women ratio is not the safest place for women.” CNN reported that six men have been arrested in connection with the gang rape, while the victim was hospitalized after the attack claiming four of them raped her and the other two robbed the couple. All six will appear in court Monday. The gang raped comes only three months after the gang rape of a 23 year old woman on a public bus by five men in New Delhi who unfortunately died due to her injuries. The defense attorney for three of the accused men partially blames the now deceased woman saying a “respected lady” does not get raped. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, it is common in India to blame the victim of such crimes because of a woman’s role in society. Ranjana Kumari, director for New Delhi based Centre for Social research told the news papers that,”This is the mentality which most Indian men are suffering from unfortunately. That is the mindset that has been perpetrating this crime because they justify it indirectly, you asked for it so it is your responsibility.”
On Sunday, five men in connection with the gang rape of a Swiss woman attacked in central India while on a cycling vacation with her husband were arrested according to the police. All five who live in a nearby village admitted the attack took place Friday night as the couple camped out in the forest in Datia district of Madhya Praesh state and were arrested in Datia, while police search for two others involved in the attack are still at large according to D.K. Arya, a senior police officer. Arya explains the couple stated that the woman was raped by seven or eight men but could not tell the exact number as it was dark outside. The husband was also attacked by the men. The woman, 39, was treated Saturday at a hospital in nearby Gwalior and was released. The attack comes only three months after the brutal gang rape of a woman aboard a New Delhi bus outraged Indians and again appeared on the front page of Indian newspapers on Saturday. Unfortunately, in that case the girl did not survive her injuries. The couple had set out for Orchha on Friday and pitched their tent in the forest when they were attacked by men armed with sticks who beat up the husband, tied him to a tree and raped the woman and taking their cellphone, laptop computer, and 10,000 rupees ($185) police reports confirm. Police were able to recover the cellphone and laptop from one of the men arrested.
The Swiss ambassador in India, Linus von Castelmur, spoke with the couple to offer the Swiss government’s support and help stating, “Their health and treatment is the priority of the moment.” The embassy asks that a “swift investigation and for justice to be done.” Rapes in India happen every 20 minutes with many going unreported due to social stigma in this conservative society and the conviction rate for crimes against women is the lowest in the world reports the Indian National Crime Records Bureau. Last month, the Swiss government issued a travel warning because of the increased number of rapes and other sexual offenses in India and this recent rape could push other countries to do the same. According to government stats, around 6.5 million foreign tourists visited India in 2011 grossing $120 billion for the nation’s travel and hospitality sector. The gang rape of a 23 year old student in December sparked debate about violence against women in India and the inability of law enforcement to protect them. One of the six suspects int he December rape hung himself in a New Delhi jail last week, but his family and lawyer believe foul play was involved prompting an investigation the other four men and juvenile remain on trial. In response to the public outcry, the government has increased prison terms for rape from seven to 10 years to a maximum of 20 years. The law also calls for the death penalty in extreme rape cases that leave the victim in a coma or results in death. It also made voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and trafficking of women punishable under criminal law according to the Associated Press.