SINGAPORE – An Indian woman who was gang-raped and beaten on a bus in New Delhi died today at a Singapore hospital, after her ordeal galvanized Indians to demand greater protection for women from sexual violence that impacts thousands of them every day.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was aware of the emotions the attack has stirred and that it was up to all Indians to ensure that the young woman’s death will not have been in vain.
The victim “passed away peacefully” with her family and officials of the Indian Embassy by her side, Dr. Kevin Loh, the chief executive of Mount Elizabeth hospital, said in a statement.
After 10 days at a hospital in New Delhi, the Indian capital, the woman was brought Thursday to Mount Elizabeth hospital, which specializes in multi-organ transplants. Loh said the woman had been in extremely critical condition since Thursday, and by late Friday her condition had taken a turn for the worse, with her vital signs deteriorating.
“Despite all efforts by a team of eight specialists in Mount Elizabeth Hospital to keep her stable, her condition continued to deteriorate over these two days,” Loh said. “She had suffered from severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain. She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome.”
The woman and a male friend, who have not been identified, were traveling on a bus in New Delhi after watching a film on the evening of Dec. 16 when they were attacked by six men who raped her. The men also beat the couple and inserted an iron rod into the woman’s body, resulting in severe organ damage. Both were then stripped and thrown off the bus, according to police.
Indian police have arrested six people in connection with the attack.
The frightening nature of the crime shocked Indians, who have come out in the thousands for almost daily demonstrations. Indian television channels said security had been tightened in New Delhi today in anticipation of more protests following the woman’s death.
The protesters are demanding stronger protection for women and the death penalty for rape, which is now punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment. Women face daily harassment across India, ranging from catcalls on the streets, groping and touching in public transport to rape.