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Anger escalates over child rape case

Thousands demand death penalty for attack on a five-year-old

Anger escalates over child rape case
Protesters stand outside the medical center where the rape victim is recovering
Ritu Sharma and Swati Deb, Delhi

April 23, 2013

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Protests in the capital over the rape of a five-year-old girl continued to rage on Tuesday with growing demands that the two suspects in custody face the death penalty.

Authorities cordoned off streets near Parliament and closed down several subway stations in an effort to screen protesters, who have taken to the streets in the thousands after revelations of a brutal child rape and police neglect in the wake of the attack.

“How much can one tolerate? There is no respect for women in this country. We want nothing less than death for the culprits,” said protester Yogita Chakraborty.

Investigating police have arrested two migrant workers from Bihar who lived near the girl’s home in eastern Delhi. The victim has been receiving treatment since the attack last week at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which has become a major hub for protesters.

“The police should acccept accountability and resign,” said one protester outside the hospital who identified himself only as Shailendra.

The government and police are provoking the people by not acting with a greater sense of justice, said Shailendra, who predicted that more people would join the protests “if things continue to go on like this.”

News reports on the attack, which described the torture and repeated rape of the child in a private apartment, first sparked the street protests on April 19. 

Anger and frustration over the attack also boiled over in Parliament during a budget meeting on Monday. The lower house adjourned following uproar among parliamentarians. 

"Delhi has turned into a rape capital. The federal government and the Delhi police should hang their heads in shame," Vijay Goel, president of the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata (Indian People’s Party), told

According to statistics from the government's National Crimes Record Bureau, 48,338 child rape cases were recorded between 2001 to 2011.

India has also seen an increase of 336 percent in child rape cases, from 2,113 reported in 2001 to 7,112 reported in 2011.

Officials say a substantial number of sexual assaults on children are not reported to police.

The latest protests have revived memories of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapist in the capital on December 16. That incident also triggered nationwide outrage, which resulted in the appointment of a commission to study and recommend changes in Indian laws against sex crimes.

The Indian parliament passed a sweeping new law aimed at protecting women against sexual violence last month. The new legislation gives courts the power to hand down the death penalty for rape that leads to the victim’s death and for repeat offenders.

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