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Protests mark end of year in India's "rape capital"

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Protests mark end of year in India's "rape capital"


The protest is peaceful but the anger is deep. In a square in New Delhi protesters want tougher government action in cases of sexual harassment.

They are calling, too, for greater protection for women from sexual violence following the death of a 23-year-old woman after a brutal gang rape.

Two men are on hunger strike in the hope of getting their protest heard by the government. Their brother, Muararinath Kushwaha, spoke for them, saying “Our protests have fallen on the government’s deaf ears, but if it doesn’t listen and if something happens to my two brothers we’ll wreak havoc in this country. So much needs to be done to end the oppression of women,” he said.

In the city known as India’s “rape capital” police often refuse to accept complaints from victims. Attitudes among many including one politician are entrenched.

“There is a nationwide demand that steps must be taken to curb such crimes in society. It is my view that one such step should be prohibiting school girls from wearing skirts with tops. Instead they should be made to wear trousers and shirts,” opined opposition MP Bhanwri Lal Singhal. A student, Gurjeet Kaur responded. “Why should we change the way we dress? Why can’t men change their mentality? How can he have such a sick mindset? Why can’t men be told to change their mindset?”

The attack which sparked these protests has forced India to address long held attitudes to sexual crimes.

Six men have been arrested for the rape on a bus on December 16; a police spokesman saying they face the death penalty if convicted.

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