21 Jan 2013

Delhi rape victim's mother condemns politicians

8:37 pm on 21 January 2013

The mother of an Indian student who died after being gang-raped on a bus in Delhi has condemned politicians who implied that her daughter brought the attack on herself.

The woman made her remarks as a specially-convened fast-track court prepared to start hearing a case against five men accused of the crime on Monday.

The accused are: Ram Singh, Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur. A sixth suspect, thought to be 17, is expected to be tried in a juvenile court.

A lawyer for one of the accused says he plans to petition the Supreme Court to transfer the case out of Delhi, due to intense media attention could lead to an unfair trial. If convicted, the men could face the death penalty.

The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, who cannot be named in India for legal reasons, and a male friend were attacked on a bus in south Delhi on 16 December. She died two weeks later in hospital in Singapore.

Weeks of protest sparked by her brutal rape have also provoked an opposing reaction from a string of male politicians and other public figures, the BBC reports.

They blame women for bringing sexual assaults on themselves through what is perceived as their Western-influenced behaviour and dress.

The mother of the victim condemned such comments as sexist and irresponsible, saying they amount to condoning rape.

The case has shocked India and sparked a debate about the treatment of women. The government has said it will bring in stronger sexual assault laws and has also promised to fast-track future rape cases. Legal proceedings in India sometimes involve years of delays.

Last week, the government announced last week it was setting up six fast-track courts in Delhi to allow crimes against women to be dealt with swiftly.