Father urges openness on victim’s ID

PROTECTING VICTIMS::Indian law currently bans the identification of victims of sex crimes, but politicians are increasingly challenging the merits of such a policy

Reuters and AFP, NEW DELHI

Mon, Jan 07, 2013 - Page 4

The father of an Indian woman whose brutal rape and torture provoked a global outcry said in an interview published yesterday 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 Singaporean hospital, two weeks after a gang-rape on a moving bus in New Delhi that ignited protests across India and neighboring 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 reporters 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. Indian 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.

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 today.

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 reporters. 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.

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.

Meanwhile, Mohan on Saturday said there was strong forensic evidence against the five men accused of the gang rape as their trial began in a city court.

A district magistrate hearing the case took note of the charges including rape and murder, signaling the start of the trial.

“We have filed all the evidence,” Mohan told the court in Saket in the south of the city.

“The blood of the victim tallied with the stains found on the clothes of the accused,” he added.

He also said that police had recovered possessions stolen from the victim and her boyfriend. As well as the forensic and other evidence, the woman’s boyfriend has testified to police and has reportedly identified the culprits.