Rape of 5-Year-Old Indian Girl Sparks New Outrage, Old Questions

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Saurabh Das / AP

An Indian woman holds a poster as she protests with others against how Indian authorities handle sex crimes, near the Parliament in New Delhi, April 22, 2013.

Dozens of news vans are again camped in front of a major hospital in New Delhi, jockeying for space behind the yellow police barricades so ubiquitous in the Indian capital in recent months. Inside, the 5-year-old victim of another grotesque rape has been making the first steps in what is sure to be a long recovery after being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and left for dead last week in an apartment one floor beneath her family home. On Monday, doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital told reporters that the girl was showing steady signs of recovery after undergoing several procedures. Two men have been arrested in connection with the attack.

For days, scenes across the capital have recalled the weeks following the Dec. 16 gang rape of a 23-year-old student, who later died of her wounds. Demonstrators have again been gathering by the hundreds, clashing with authorities in their outrage at the failure of the police and the government to better protect India’s citizens and, in particular, its women. On Monday, several streets near the government in central New Delhi were barricaded as protesters from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, among others, marched toward Parliament.

(MORE: Will India’s Tourist Industry Be Tarnished by Attacks on Women?)

Before last week, the initial outrage over the brutality of the Dec. 16 crime had been slowly fading in New Delhi, in spite of the unnervingly steady stream of violent rapes that have continued to be reported by Indian media across the country. In March, the government passed a new, tougher rape law that, among other things, allows for rapes resulting in fatalities to be punishable by death. But many say that the more systemic problems at the root of India’s rising violent crime — such as chronic police understaffing, poor training and a lack of political will to change either — have not been addressed. Sexual assaults are considered to be vastly underreported, and the ones that are reported often go nowhere. In New Delhi alone, of more than 600 rape cases filed last year, just one resulted in a conviction.

The police handling of both sexual assault and crime against children came under fresh attack as the circumstances of the 5-year-old’s ordeal emerged. After their daughter had gone missing two days before, the family of the victim heard her crying in a locked ground-floor room in the building they live in. After breaking into the room and rushing the girl to local police, the family told reporters that the officers on duty offered them 2000 rupees — a little less than $40 — to quietly disappear and not register a report, a practice observers say is common in a system ill-equipped to handle its caseload. Over the weekend, protesters stormed police headquarters, calling for the resignation of the police commissioner. In response, police handed out pamphlets promising that both the rape case and the offending authorities would be dealt with swiftly, and on Monday, Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told Parliament that the government had taken action against the officers on duty.

(MORE: What Ram Singh’s Life — and Death — Says About Violence and Inequity in India)

Will this latest round of quick corrective action make any lasting difference? The track record of bringing justice to the victims of sexual abuse in India does not bode well. In a Human Rights Watch report released in February, researchers found that the underreporting of child sexual abuse and rape was rampant, owing to no small part to scenarios precisely like the 5-year-old’s family has described. In one bleak example, the report cites a 2007 government-sponsored survey of 12,500 children in 13 states. The report found “serious and widespread sexual abuse” among those that it surveyed, but only 3% of the cases in which children said they had been abused had been reported to the police.

118 comments
jvaishnav47
jvaishnav47

In India crime rate is increasing, conviction rate is falling down, Corruption is rampant.

Govt can not expect of ethics, high morale in public since govt/ parliament itself have  member of parliaments with criminal back ground, cases pending against them . More over it is open Govt protect corrupt persons /politicians


Need of the hour is strict laws, fast judicial  process together with police reforms & independent CBI

People are angry since minors are being raped, govt is utterly failed to control crime ,corruption, improve governance

kaysee
kaysee

The trouble with these people is that they are too proud, like boasting about going to planet Mars despite not having attempt the moon or building more nuclear missiles. The money could have being well spent for more beneficial purpose especially educating its people how to treat its female population, children & the lower caste. Absolutely Failed society!

HarmanSingh94
HarmanSingh94

@faisabenjay I have loads of links about islam and terrorist...peadophiles and guess what that's in Britain

HarmanSingh94
HarmanSingh94

@faisabenjay shows how stupid you really are they were not sikh, hindus, but if this is a link war you will loose

LaurianoBermudez
LaurianoBermudez

Remove that police commissioner and suspend him and give justice to that girl.. And the person that do that horrible act they should cut his Penis.......

amit_kul55
amit_kul55

@TIME @TIMEWorld Very Sad, indeed .. But right thinking people are getting onto the streets to protest the police and political inaction ..

Alisaspeaks
Alisaspeaks

@BasuAshis If India had been say China the world would have questioned the treatment meted out to the protesters by the Police @TIMEWorld

rndubey01
rndubey01

@TIME it's the achievement 5000yrs that the country of VEDAS is governed by ROBOT. An impossiblity for west scientifically

KiniLucien
KiniLucien

@TIME Million of congolese girls are also raped. Longstanding outrage!

m_rajeswari
m_rajeswari

@TIME @TIMEWorld This is happening all over the world, and now this brought into attention. Time to action against these crimes?

lalthasap
lalthasap

evil is taking shelter in people's brains everywhere

AndorianIP
AndorianIP

@TIME @TIMEWorld too bad we couldn't castrate those maggots with a very dull butter knife while they were stil very alert!

BasuAshis
BasuAshis

@Alisaspeaks True. The world is viewing India through a very different lens..the focus is on the sordid acts of its men, not protests.

AugustaGolfGirl
AugustaGolfGirl

@iamgolfy They are the lowest of low, filth. Anyone that would rape a 5 year old should die a slow death. Let me have a moment with them.

StealYoTractor
StealYoTractor

@faisabenjay lol nah your girls are bigger slags, wear hijabs at home then outside give head to all the boys

BasuAshis
BasuAshis

@Alisaspeaks Yes. When many in power are guilty themselves of despicable acts, protests will be quashed.