18:10 GMT11 May 2021
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    On Friday the death sentences of four men convicted of raping, torturing and killing a young woman in New Dehli in 2012 was upheld by India’s highest court. The men brutally attacked the 23-year-old physiotherapy student who died two weeks after the assault, succumbing to internal injuries.

    Protests erupted across India in the aftermath of the attack, which the Press Trust of India News described as "most brutal, barbaric and diabolical."  The court decided that the death penalty was warranted given the nature of the assault.

    NPR reported at the time. "The demonstrations demanding justice for the victim reflect not only the public revulsion at the brutality of her attack, but also the simmering rage over the prevalence of sexual violence in India."

    After forcing the victim to the back of a New Dehli bus and raping her the four attackers, Vinay Sharma, Mukesh, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta used an iron rod to damage her internal organs. After two weeks of treatment at a Singapore hospital, she died, with the men sentenced to being hung in the subsequent trial.

    After announcing the sentence Judge Yogesh Khanna said the assault "shocked the collective conscience" of the country, and that  "In these times, when crime against women is on the rise, the courts cannot turn a blind eye toward such gruesome crimes." 

    Defense lawyer A.P. Singh shouted at the judge, "This is not the victory of truth. But it is the defeat of justice."

    Badri Singh, the victim’s father, praised the court’s decision and called for a speedy execution. He said, "The court heard our voice and gave justice," according to USA Today.

    Following the assault legislation was passed criminalizing the voyeurism trafficking and stalking of women, along with doubling rape prison terms to 20 years. The age for trying people as an adult for severe crimes was also lowered from 18 to 16.

    In March 2013 the bus driver, Ram Singh, who is also the fifth suspect in the incident, was found hanging in his cell in Tihar prison. 

    New Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal pointed out that the massive backlog of India’s courts made people comfortable about committing crimes because they think the country will never get around to prosecuting them.

    She said, "The fact is that the road to justice is very, very long in this country…Even in this case, it has taken five years. But at least in five years, we are coming to a conclusion. There are women in the country who have been fighting court battles for 10 to 15 years."

    Maliwal added, "Nothing much has changed because there is no fear among people that if they do something wrong, they will be punished." 


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