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INDIA

Gang-rape victim in India speaks to police about ordeal

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 December, 2012, 5:06am
 

An Indian student who was savagely gang-raped has begun to recount her ordeal to police, reports said, as authorities reacted to violent protests by banning demonstrations in the capital.

The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student who had been battling for her life since the assault a week ago, gave her first statement to police late on Saturday in the New Delhi hospital where she is being treated.

Her answers appeared to confirm most of the details that officers had pieced together from a statement by her 28-year-old male companion, who was also assaulted and thrown off the suspects' vehicle.

"All six men took turns to sexually assault me," the Hindustan Times newspaper quoted the woman as saying to police. "They threw us on the side of the road where I then fainted."

All six of the alleged attackers have now been arrested and remanded in custody. Police say the six were drunk and were joyriding in an off-duty bus with tinted windows when they picked the unsuspecting pair up as they were returning from a night out at the cinema.

The men then took turns raping the student at the back of the bus, according to police and prosecutors. The victim suffered serious intestinal injuries from being beaten with an iron rod during the assault.

The attack has triggered angry demonstrations in Delhi and in other cities across the country, with protesters demanding the death penalty for the rapists and better security for women.

The government, stung by criticism that victims of sex assaults are often let down by India's notoriously slow justice system, has said it is considering bringing in the death penalty for the most extreme rape cases.

In the biggest protest so far, several thousand university students rallied at the India Gate monument in the capital on Saturday where they were baton-charged, water cannoned and tear-gassed by the police.

One group of protesters camped overnight outside the residence of Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the main ruling Congress party. "I am with you … and justice will be delivered," she told protesters.

Fearing more violent protests, police declared areas close to the president's residence and the parliament off-limits yesterday and detained those who defied the prohibitory orders. All the routes leading to landmark government buildings were cordoned off and train stations in the vicinity were closed to the public.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the government would look at "enhanced punishment in the rarest of rare rape cases", a reference to capital punishment.

The current maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment.

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