Protests continue in India demanding greater protection for women following the death of a gang rape victim, the suspects are charged with murder. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.
NEW DELHI -- The father of a young Indian woman whose gang rape aboard a bus and subsequent death sparked public outrage has demanded that those responsible be hanged.
The Dec. 16 attack on the 23-year-old physiotherapy student and a male companion provoked furious protests demanding greater protection for women and fueled a nationwide debate about the prevalence of sexual crimes in India, where a rape is reported on average every 20 minutes.
The incident has forced India to confront the reality that sexually assaulted women are often blamed for the crime, forced to keep quiet and discouraged from going to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule. Police often refuse to accept complaints from rape victims, and the rare prosecutions that reach courts can drag on for years.
The woman died on Saturday from massive internal injuries at a hospital in Singapore, where she had been taken for treatment.
Rape and murder charges were filed Thursday against five men accused in the gang rape. Police say they plan to push for the death penalty in the case.
A 23-year-old medical student who was raped on a bus in New Delhi has died, resulting in charges against six men. Even before she died, her savage attack triggered mass protests about treatment of women. NBC's Duncan Golestani reports.
A sixth suspect was listed as 17 and was expected to be tried in a juvenile court, where the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility.
The father of the woman said he backed the chorus of calls for those responsible to be executed.
"The whole country is demanding that these monsters be hanged. I am with them," the father told reporters in his home village of Mandwara Kalan in Uttar Pradesh state.
Protesters in India are calling for the execution of several men accused of raping a young woman on a moving bus. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.
The woman has not been identified, nor have members of her family, in accordance with Indian law.
The woman was born in the village, but the family soon moved to the capital, New Delhi.
The father added that he was demanding a change in the law to allow for the execution of juveniles.
The studious, ambitious young woman was determined to improve life in her village, the father said.
"She said, 'Papa, the place of your birth is very backward. If I become a doctor I will first improve life in the village,'" the father said.
Days of protests in New Delhi and other cities followed the attack. Many of the protesters have been students, infuriated by what they see as the failure of the government to protect women.
Hundreds of women marched in New Delhi to mourn the death of a 23-year-old rape victim while protesters in Mumbai raided a bar serving a drink called "Rapist." NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.
The case against the five accused is due to be processed by a new, fast-track chamber set up in response to the crime.
Hanging is allowed only in the "rarest of rare" cases under Indian law. It was used for the first time in eight years in November when the lone surviving gunman from a 2008 militant attack on Mumbai, Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, was executed.
The pair were attacked for hours as the bus drove through the city, even passing through police checkpoints during the assault. They were eventually dumped naked on the side of the road. The woman was assaulted with an iron bar.
Police have said the accused have admitted to torturing and raping the student "to teach her a lesson."
She fought back and bit three of them, a police source told Reuters, and the bite marks are part of the evidence against them.
After the victim was thrown from the private bus, the driver tried to run her over, but she was pulled away by her companion, a senior police official told Reuters.
Police have prepared a dossier of evidence and charges against the accused believed to run to 1,000 pages, including testimony from the woman's friend who survived the attack on the bus and a man who said he was robbed by the same gang prior to the rape.
The woman's father told reporters he supported a proposal to name new legislation on sex crimes in honor of his daughter.
"She is the one who has been sacrificed," he said.
In India official statistics show that one woman is raped every 22 minutes, but the low conviction rate allows most rapists to go free. There have been daily protests in India following a brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student. Women are demanding police do something about the violence they face. ITV's Victoria Macdonald reports.
The government has set up two panels headed by retired judges to recommend measures to ensure women's safety. One of the panels, due to make recommendations later this month, has received some 17,000 suggestions from the public, media reported.
The district court where the charges are due to be heard is expected to assign a defense lawyer for the five men after the bar association said none of its members were willing to represent them.
Lawyers in black robes protested outside the court on Thursday, demanding the judicial system act faster against rape.
Prakash Singh / AFP - Getty Images
Activists hold placards during a protest at Saket District Court in New Delhi on Thursday.
"We want the laws to be amended in such a stringent way that before a person even thinks of touching a girl, he should feel chills down his spine," protesting lawyer Suman Lata Katiyal said.
Attitudes by Indians toward rape are so entrenched that even politicians and opinion-makers have often suggested that women should not go out at night or wear clothes that might be seen as provocative.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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