India rape suspects to be charged as victim's family speaks

Before dying of injuries from a brutal sexual assault, an Indian woman was studying to become a doctor, hoping to help others from her humble beginnings, her family told the BBC.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details

A candlelight vigil for an Indian gang-rape victim who died in late Dec. 2012. Her family remembers the 23-year-old woman, who wanted to be a doctor, as very studious. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

Before dying from her injuries, the Indian victim of a brutal sexual assault was studying to become a doctor, hoping to help others from her humble beginnings, her family says.

"I remember asking her once, who are your friends?" her father said in a BBC interview broadcast Wednesday. ""And she replied, 'Dad, it's only my books I am friends with.'"

The interview aired hours before New Delhi police announced Thursday they were ready to file murder, rape and kidnapping charges against the six people accused in her gang-rape and killing.

The charges against the suspects were expected to be presented to a court in south Delhi on Thursday.

In 1983, the victim's family left a small village in a northern India state for Delhi, hoping to create a better life for themselves.

During her 23 years, the woman rarely visited the faraway village, but her father said she dreamed of building a hospital there to help the people of one of the nation's poorest regions.

Indo-Canadian organizes Ottawa vigil

About 60 people gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to honour the 23-year-old gang-rape victim and help raise awareness about violence against women.

"By creating this event it's created a huge buzz and uproar within the community," said organizer Meenakshi Sharma, adding that the incident shook her and many she knew in the city's South Asian community.

She died in late December — the victim of a sexual assault that has galvanized a country known for a culture of harassment against women and its sluggish legal responses — before realizing any of the dreams she worked tirelessly to achieve.

Instead of visiting the woman as a doctor in a hospital, her father, mother and two younger brothers visited her as a patient.

"One day, she held her mother and whispered, 'Mommy, I am sorry, I am sorry,'" said her father.

Her brother spoke with her on Christmas, when he said "she gestured with her fingers that she was going to heaven."

Sold land to pay tuition

She always found a way to get what she wanted, her father said. "If she made up her mind to have a sweet, even the shopkeeper had to relent," he said.

Despite being told he couldn't afford to pay for her education, she didn't give up. Finally, the family sold some land to raise money for her tuition.

"I wanted my children to get the best of education," he said.

His daughter showed her appreciation by studying hard and encouraging her brothers to do the same, saying she would only marry after they completed their education.

"She studied day and night," said her brother. "We would not even know when she slept and woke up."

'She must never have imagined it'

On Dec. 16, the night she was attacked, his sister called to say she would be late coming home, her brother said, which she did without fail if she anticipated being delayed.

The woman and a male friend had been out watching a film and were coming home by bus. Six men attacked the couple, beating them, and raping the woman, inserting an iron rod into her body and causing severe organ damage. They stripped the pair and threw them off the bus, afterwards attempting to run her over, according to reports citing police notes on the incident.

Her brother said he attempted to call her about an hour after speaking to her, but couldn't get through.

Hours later, the family received news of their daughter's condition from the hospital to which police had taken her.

"She was not scared of anyone," her brother said. "We could never imagine that such a fate would befall her. She must never have imagined it."

With files from the Associated Press