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As The Anger Continues Over India Gang Rape, Five Suspects Are Charged With Murder
January 3, 2013
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There's a new development in India today, regarding a violent crime that has set off anger across the country.

Authorities have charged five men with the kidnap, gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi last month.

She was attacked on a bus on December 16 and died two weeks later in a hospital in Singapore, where she'd been flown for specialized care.

The suspects will go on trial in a special fast-track court, where authorities are expected to push for the death penalty. The trial is expected to start this weekend.

A 6th suspect will be tried in juvenile court.

Authorities say they secured testimony from the woman before she died and are prepared to call about 30 other witnesses.

The court is expected to appoint lawyers for the men, because no one from the Bar Association will defend them.

Every day since the attack, thousands of protesters have been calling for tougher laws to protect women - including a new anti-rape law.

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They say women across the country are regularly harassed or sexually assaulted, but authorities don't take the crimes seriously.

And even if a case goes to trial, they say suspects are overwhelmingly acquitted.

In this case, there are calls for the men to be executed if they're found guilty - including from the victim's father.

"The whole country is demanding that these monsters be hanged. I am with them," he told reporters.

In an interview with the BBC, he also said that while his daughter was in hospital, she ''held her mother and whispered, Mummy, I am sorry... I am sorry".

You can hear the full interview here.

as-the-anger-and-protests-over-india-gang-rape-continues-five-suspects-are-charged-with-murder-today-feature3.jpg Outside the court, about 50 women lawyers called for changes in the criminal justice system with one protest sign saying "Punish the police, sensitize judiciary, eradicate rape".

Despite the anger, India's chief justice is reminding people the men must receive a fair trial.

"Let us not lose sight of the fact that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty," Altamas Kabir said.

"Let us balance things. Let us not get carried away. Provide justice in a fair but swift manner so that faith of people is once again restored that the judiciary is there behind the common man."

The case has put India in the spotlight, with media and journalists around the world covering the story, putting together feature pieces and writing editorials.

Here are some that caught our eye.

Faiz Jamil did a special report for CBC entitled 'Can India's Anti-Rape Moment Change A Culture?'

Jamil writes "Since I started reporting from India in 2009, I've read almost daily about these kind of crimes happening around the country; and these are just the ones that are reported."

He goes on to say "This incident, however, looks like it could be a tipping point... Many people in Delhi have told me about feeling mentally and physically sick trying to come to terms with what happened."

"People seem to be connecting personally to this young woman as a symbolic daughter or sister. She is an actual person, a martyr now, for people to rally around," he writes.

The BBC's Andrew North did this story about the fear and injustice many women in India have to endure.

Owen Jones of The Independent wrote a piece entitled 'Sexual Violence Is Not A Cultural Phenomenon In India - It Is Endemic Everywhere'.

Jones writes that in the West this case has been characterized as "an Indian specific problem" with reports that refer to India's "rape culture" and the "prevalence of sex attacks."

He says "it's comforting to think that this is someone else's problem, a particular scandal that afflicts a supposedly backward nation. It is an assumption that is as wrong as it is dangerous."

"Rape and sexual violence against women are endemic everywhere," Jones says.

Salon.com has a story entitled 'India's Culture Of Rape Is Endemic'.

It points out that "every major political party has fielded and continues to field candidates facing criminal charges for rape, harassment and other crimes against women."

In doing so, the piece says "the country's political parties have implicitly sanctioned the crime."

There's also this piece from Veenu Sandhu of Business Standard. She interviews Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association.

Krishnan says the dealth penalty won't help victims get justice.

She says "the question we need to ask about sexual violence laws is not 'Are they severe enough?' but 'Are they gender-just enough?' and 'Are they firmly grounded in a recognition of women's inalienable rights?'."

Krishnan goes on to say "we need to make women's unconditional right to freedom without fear a central question in politics -- and help make sexism less 'acceptable'. The struggle for women's rights is political, isn't it? It is changing the terms and discourse of politics."

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In the Times Of India, Kingshuk Nag has a blog entitled 'Will Rapist Go Scot Free'? He argues for the dealth penalty saying this is "an open and shut case."

Nag also suggests the 17-year-old suspect will effectively go "scot free" because he is a minor under the law.

He goes on to say "In terms of ghastliness, this is one of the rarest of rare cases. All the accused deserve to be sentenced to death. There are no two opinions on this. That one of the 'gentlemen' is a minor is purely a matter of record. The nation demands justice and if justice is not done, the damage resulting will be far more than trying to save a so called minor."

The Wall Street Journal has a piece by Rupa Subramanya entitled 'Why India Is So Damn Violent'.

She writes "overturning centuries of misogyny, which cuts across class and caste divides, will have to begin by changing the mindsets of people we interact with everyday and may even live with."

"An older male relative, educated and apparently modern in other ways, has repeatedly told me I should wear a dupatta (a long scarf) over my t-shirt to cover my chest, while of course staring directly at it."

You might also want to follow Karuna Nundy on Twitter. She's a lawyer, an advocate in the Supreme Court of India and a legal policy adviser for governments and the UN.

Here are a few of her tweets regarding this case.

"We say no to the death penalty, no bloodprice at the cost of our safety."

"The most important thing we can ask each other for: the strength and insight to dismantle the patriarchy within us, men and women."

"When you hear about 'tough' laws, you've got a red herring. Usually refers only to sentencing: easiest, last stage in dealing with rape."

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