Indian rape victim's father says he wants her named

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - The father of an Indian woman whose brutal rape and torture provoked a global outcry said in an interview published on Sunday that he wanted her name to be made public so she could be an inspiration to other victims of sexual assault.

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died on Dec 28 in a Singapore hospital, two weeks after a gang rape on a moving bus in New Delhi that ignited protests across India and neighbouring countries, and prompted government promises for tougher punishments for offenders.

"We want the world to know her real name," the woman's father told Britain's Sunday People newspaper.

"My daughter didn't do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself," he added. "I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter."

Indian law generally prohibits the identification of victims of sex crimes. The law is intended to protect victims' privacy and keep them from the media glare in a country where the social stigma associated with rape can be devastating.

The father later told Reuters he had no objections to the media using his daughter's name, but did not elaborate.

There have been growing calls in India to name the victim.

Politician Shashi Tharoor last week questioned the merit of keeping her anonymous, and suggested naming new anti-rape legislation after her, a proposal her father supported.

The British paper named the father and his daughter, saying that the father had given permission, but added that it would not publish a photo of her at the family's request. Reuters has opted not to identify the victim.

Citing the same law, Delhi police have started legal proceedings against TV network Zee News after it ran an interview with a friend of the victim who was with her during the attack.

He accused the police of responding slowly and failing to cover the victim and himself after they were thrown from the bus without clothes and bleeding.

Five men have been charged with her gang rape and murder and will appear in a New Delhi court on Monday.

Despite huge public pressure to move quickly, it might take several weeks to formally begin the trial against the five men, a public prosecutor in the case, Rajiv Mohan, told Reuters. He said the case could be concluded within four to five months.

A juvenile also accused of the assault will be tried separately.

The protests and fierce public debate that followed the Dec 16 rape have revealed fissures between conservative Indians who blame a wave of sex crimes on a loss of traditional values and a growing new middle class used to women playing a larger role in public life.

The head of a Hindu nationalist organisation linked to the main opposition force, the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Friday stoked debate by saying sex crimes and gang rapes mainly happened in urban India - a position not supported by facts.

"You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang rape or sex crimes. They are prevalent in some urban belts," said Mr Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

While India's per capita rape statistics are lower than in many other nations, one rape case is reported in the country every 20 minutes.

A global poll of experts last year by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation, showed India to be the worst place among G20 countries to be a woman.

Activists say most sex crimes in India go unreported, and official data show that almost all go unpunished. Reported rape cases rose nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.