India lacks political will to end rape crisis, says father of Delhi rape victim

Members of All India Students Association during a protest outside police headquarters in New Delhi, India.
Members of All India Students Association during a protest outside police headquarters in New Delhi, India. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (AFP) - The father of a student who died after being gang-raped in New Delhi three years ago said on Wednesday (Dec 16) politicians still lack the will to end India's rape crisis and criticised one attacker's imminent release.

Speaking on the anniversary of the 2012 assault on his daughter that sparked global outrage, the father said it was unclear if the attacker had reformed after serving the maximum legal term for a juvenile.

The national government introduced tougher penalties for rapists and other measures after the crime unleashed a wave of public anger and grief against India's high levels of sexual violence.

But the father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the government had still not spent funds promised to upgrade safety for women in the capital.

"It was meant to install CCTV cameras, light up dark streets and deploy more policemen," he told reporters in New Delhi.

"The government has the time and the money but not the will to do anything to improve the safety and security for women.

"We don't know how to awaken the conscience of the government."

A group of four adults were convicted and handed death sentences in 2014 for the attack on the 23-year-old student on a moving bus. Their appeals are pending in the Supreme Court.

A fifth offender, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was sentenced to three years in a detention facility for his role and is set to walk free in the coming days.

"Almost every day we read about small girls being raped. If criminals like him are let off I fear what will happen to society," the father said.

Women's rights groups have also opposed his release, mainly on the grounds that it was unclear if he had been rehabilitated and was ready to be reintegrated into society.

"According to what the daughter told her mother, he was the most brutal among her attackers," said Ranjana Kumari, head of the Centre for Social Research think-tank in New Delhi.

"We'd like to know if he repents what he did and whether he can live amongst us in society and not be a threat."

The National Commission of Women has also protested, saying his release would do nothing to tackle a culture of impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence.

The victim died of grievous internal injuries on Dec 29 after being lured on to the private bus by the gang following a cinema trip with her male friend.

India recorded 36,735 rape cases in 2014, with 2,096 of them in Delhi alone, although experts say those figures are likely to represent only the tip of the iceberg.

Since the 2012 attack India has repeatedly hit the headlines for a series of brutal rapes including those of children and foreign women.