Gang rape and murder of veterinary student sparks protest in New Delhi

Luke O'Reilly
Outraged protesters gathered in New Delhi after the woman's body was found in Hyderabad: Reuters

Hundreds of protesters gathered in New Delhi to demand justice after a veterinarian was gang-raped and killed last week.

The protesters demanded a fast-track investigation in the case and stringent laws for the safety of women in India.

The burned body of the 27-year-old woman was found Thursday morning by a passer-by in an underpass in the southern city of Hyderabad after she went missing the previous night.

Police said four suspects have been taken into custody.

"We are not safe anymore in India. We are scared to move out of our homes," said Sejal Kumar, a college student.

The protesters have demanded a 'stream-lined' judicial process (Reuters)

Violent crimes against women have been in the spotlight in India since 2012, when the fatal gang rape of a young woman aboard a moving bus in New Delhi prompted hundreds of thousands to take to the streets to demand stricter rape laws.

The outrage spurred quick action on legislation that doubled prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. Indian lawmakers also voted to lower to 16 from 18 the age at which a person can be tried as an adult for heinous crimes.

According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered 33,658 cases of rape in India in 2017 - an average of more than 90 every day. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don't register the cases in police stations due to fear.

The data also reveals that more than 90% of cases of crime against women are pending in city courts.

Police kept protesters behind a barricade (Reuters)

The latest incident was also debated in Parliament.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said that the government is willing to discuss crime against women and to explore the strongest provisions in the law.

"This act has brought shame to the entire country. It has hurt everyone. The accused must be given the most stringent punishment for their crime," Singh said.

Activists in India say the government has failed in checking the rising crimes against women.

Jyoti Badekar, a women's rights activist from Mumbai, said the lack of female police staff is one of the factors fueling the problem.