5 Jan 2013

Indian rape victim 'left bleeding in street for hour'

11:51 am on 5 January 2013

The male companion of a female student gang-raped and murdered on a bus in India says police and passers-by left her lying unclothed and bleeding in the street for almost an hour.

The attack in Delhi on 16 December last year has caused outrage throughout India and worldwide.

In his first account of the attack the man, who was interviewed on an Indian satellite-TV channel, says he tried to fight back, but was knocked unconscious.

The man says once they were thrown from the bus, they were left bleeding in the street for 45 minutes before a police van arrived, Reuters reports.

He says once officers were there, they wasted time arguing about which police unit was responsible and did not help the 23-year-old badly injured woman, who later died in a Singapore hospital.

The BBC reports the man told of how he and the woman were first tricked into boarding what appeared to be a passenger bus after going to the cinema and even paid a fare.

But then the doors were locked and men on board started teasing the woman, leading to a fight. She was dragged away, and the friend says he was then knocked out. Then, for at least an hour, the men brutally raped and tortured the woman.

The friend confirmed reports that the attackers tried to run the pair over after throwing them off the bus.

When three police vans were called, he says they wasted time arguing which unit was responsible - and even then they didn't help the badly injured woman, who was bleeding profusely from her injuries. The man says he had to help her into the police van himself.

Neither the woman nor her friend have been named.

On Thursday, five men were charged with the woman's rape and murder. Their trial is due to begin at the weekend and they could face the death penalty if found guilty. A sixth suspect is likely to be tried in a juvenile court.

More women officers

The Indian government says it will deploy more female police officers, including for every station in Delhi following the outcry over the woman's rape and murder.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said India had to crack down on crimes against women. He called a meeting of law enforcement officials from throughout the country to consider how to improve protection for women and told delegates that the entire system needed to be reappraised.

"These kinds of incidents, and rage against women and weaker sections of our society, are unacceptable to our democracy. These need to be curbed with an iron hand."

Mr Shinde had earlier announced that each of the 166 police stations in Delhi would have women officers available at all times, and that more women would be recruited across the country.

At present, many police stations in the city do not have any women on their staff. Officials say it is often difficult for policemen to assist a female victim.

The government has been under pressure to act since the December attack. The case has sparked huge protests and demands for better protection for women.