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Sunday, 24 November, 2002, 18:33 GMT
India faces rape debate
Indian women
Women say the law does not protect them
The issue of rape in India has been thrown high up the political agenda following an alleged gang-rape of a medical student in the capital, Delhi.

On Sunday one of the four alleged attackers was remanded in custody.

Indian women
The law takes a light view of crime against women
He is accused of raping the 24-year-old medical student in broad day light. The girl was dragged off a busy road at a knife point and was taken to a nearby historical monument, Khooni Darwaza.

The man and three suspected accomplices have now been charged with rape, robbery and criminal conspiracy.

Police said they had tracked down the accused man's missing trousers and would carry out forensic tests to establish that he had been in sexual contact with his alleged victim.

The case has caused widespread outrage.

Angry students from the victim's college, the prestigious Maulana Azad Medical, went on a protest strike demanding the arrest of those responsible for the crime.

Harassment 'rife'

According to women's groups, there is one rape every hour in India, with females belonging to lower castes or from tribal origin at highest risk.

Last week MPs in parliament suspended scheduled business to debate whether rapists should be given the death sentence.

Sexual harassment of women is rife in India and the conviction of rapists is extremely difficult under current legislation.

For years women's groups have demanded the laws on rape be modernised.

But so far law makers have ignored them.

Many incidents of rape in villages and small towns are largely ignored.

But recently there has been widespread outrage at some daring incidents of rape, including one in a Bombay (Mumbai) suburban train and on the campus of Delhi University.

Unsafe for women

On Sunday one of Delhi's leading newspapers, The Hindustan Times, released the findings of a survey of women in Delhi:

  • 72% said they had been sexually harassed
  • 18% said they face harassment nearly every day
  • 16% said that they had been sexually molested
  • Nearly 70% said not enough was being done by the Delhi police
  • 43% think rapists should be castrated
  • 71% wanted the death penalty for rapists
 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Law Commission chairman Justice Jeevan Reddy
We are trying to bring about more sensitivity towards sexual assaults
See also:

24 Nov 99 | South Asia
16 Nov 99 | South Asia
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27 Sep 99 | South Asia
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