Editor’s note: This story contains language and details of sexual violence.
Monday marks the anniversary of a brutal gang rape in New Delhi in which 23-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh was raped, beaten, and murdered on a private bus while on her way home from seeing a movie.
Singh’s rape and murder lead to massive protests and civil unrest. Six people were arrested in conjunction with her death, four of whom were later sentenced to death.
But, seven years later, violent sexual attacks against women and girls in India persist, the Associated Press reported.
While violence against women is all too common in India and is subsequently seldom reported, several high-profile rape cases have made the news in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, a rape survivor was set on fire while on her way to court after accusing two men of raping her last year. The woman was doused in kerosene by a group of men while waiting for the train in the city of Unnao.
Less than a week later, a note was left on the doorstep of another gang rape survivor about to testify in court, which read, “Consequences may be worse than what happened in Unnao.”
A 23-year-old rape victim dies after being set ablaze in the second major case of violence against women in India in the past two weeks, sparking public outrage in the country https://t.co/cxGyLmGJb9pic.twitter.com/cQdSdW9WkH— Reuters (@Reuters) December 8, 2019
In another incident, the body of a 27-year-old veterinarian who was raped, murdered, and burned alive was found late last month. The men being held as suspects in the case were fatally shot by the local police, launching a wave of mixed reactions from the public.
“Nobody wants to invest in changing the system. You’ve just done some instant justice, closure, everybody’s moved on,” activist and gang rape survivor Sunitha Krishnan told the Associated Press. “And for most people, this is finished. But life doesn’t move on for hundreds of thousands of victims who are languishing for justice. And that’s the pathetic reality of this country.”
In 2017, there were 33,658 rapes reported to the police, a 35% increase since 2012, according to data provided by the Indian government. Over a third of the reported survivors and victims were children at the time.
While the conviction rate rose slightly over the same five-year timespan, only 7.5% of offenders were convicted when victims had been both raped and murdered.
“We are planning to make this a nationwide movement,” Swati Maliwal, the head of the Delhi Commission for Women, told the Associated Press. “Rapes in this country have to end.”
If you have experienced sexual abuse, call the free, confidential National Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or access the 24-7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org. You can find international resources here.