Russian media gives high prominence to New Delhi gangrape case. Source: Flickr/AJstream
The Russian media has given high prominence to the coverage of the New Delhi gangrape of a woman medical student on December 16, fuelling an outburst of unprecedented anger and mass street protests in the Indian capital which instantly spread across the country.
Russian newspapers and TV channels regularly carried out reports about the ongoing protests, mainly by students and members of the youth in various cities, demanding improvement of the safety of women and harsher punishment for rapists. The victim, a 23-year-old girl succumbed to her serious multiple injuries on December 29, in a Singapore hospital.
“The case of the medical student raped in mid-December in the Munirka area of Delhi by a gang of six men, has dominated the public forum,” the Russia Today TV channel said in a report “India’s gangrape shock,” revealing the gory accounts of alleged brutal abuse by a juvenile suspect.
“The incident has provoked public outrage, condemning the police and the government for their inaction on the issue of women’s safety,” it added, referring to the peaceful mass street protests in New Delhi, after the news of the victim’s death, the reports about which were broadcast in all the news bulletins of electronic media.
“The gangrape case has become the focus of protests across India, rallying for greater protection for women in Indian society,” the channel said, stressing, “New Delhi has an infamous reputation as India’s rape capital.”
“Victims of rapes often do not come forward to the police in India for fear of shaming their families or being ignored by the police. Moreover, rape cases are so widespread that they are rarely covered by the press,” it said.
The channel said the Indian authorities have reportedly announced a series of measures aimed at making the city safer for women, including more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with painted windows or curtains. The government has also set up a 13-member committee under a retired Supreme Court judge to recommend changes to the criminal law dealing with sexual crimes, it said.
“In response to the public uproar, India’s ruling Congress Party is drafting the new legislation for submission to the Justice Verma Committee, charged with reassessing current rape laws and suggesting changes to ensure greater safety for women,” it said.
The Russian state radio station “Voice of Russia,” in particular, reported on January 3 how the death of the victim of the gangrape in New Delhi, sparked a national outrage throughout the country. “Thousands of women marched through Delhi to Rajghat- Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi- to protest against the rape and men’s attitude to women,” it said.
“The crime has highlighted the prevalence of sex attacks on women in India and led to outcry across the country, with many calling for the death penalty for the culprits,” it said, adding “ the demonstrations have become the biggest protests in the Indian capital since the anti-corruption marches in 2011 that shook the government.”
“The incident evoked a widespread societal response. It led to a wave of protests demanding hanging of the perpetrators of this crime and ensuring safety of women. About 145 people, including 80 policemen were injured in the ensuing clashes between the protesters and the police,” the radio station said in its report entitled “Highly publicised gangrape case trial begins in India” on January 7.
Russian online newspaper Pravda also reported on the case and the protests. “The young woman whose gangrape triggered protests and a national debate on violence against women in India, died on December 29, causing police action to ensure security in the capital, New Delhi, and confirmation by the Indian Prime Minister that social change is needed,” it said in its report on January 3.
“The intense media coverage of the gangrape and the use of social media to galvanise protests, especially by young middle-class students, forced political leaders to confront some uncomfortable truths about the treatment of women in India,” the paper noted.
“Most sex crimes are not reported in India, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women,” Pravda underlined.
It pointed out that the street protesters have accused the Indian authorities and the police of not taking seriously the allegations of rapes and sexual assaults in the country, where over 90 percent of violent crimes recorded in 2011 had one or more victims as women.
The paper also cited official statistics to show that an “epidemic of attacks” on young women has become common incidents.
“Of the 2,56,329 violent crimes in India in the past year, 2,28,650 were against women,” it said quoting the official statistics. “The actual number, however, can be much higher, since many women are reluctant to report attacks to the police,” it said.
According to Russia Today TV channel, since the news of the brutal gangrape in December, almost 300 Delhi women have applied for gun licences. Some 1,200 more have called the licensing department to inquire how to obtain one. Hundreds turned up at the police department seeking permission to get a gun for self-defence, it said quoting the Delhi Police.
Even during the visit of President Vladimir Putin on December 24, members of the media accompanying the Russian President widely reported about the India-Russia summit being held in the shadow of the unprecedented and spontaneous protests by the youths and students over the brutal gangrape case.
The continuing protests forced the Indian authorities to change the venue of the summit talks from Hyderabad House to the Prime Minister’s residence at 7, Race Course Road, Russian print and electronic media reported, stressing the police crackdown on crowds protesting at India Gate against the gangrape to sanitise the area and clear the entire zone of protesters on the eve of the Putin’s visit to India.
“Riots in the Indian capital forced Russian President Vladimir Putin to reschedule his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Initially the talks were to be held in the government building (Hyderabad House), but because the protests mostly raged in front of it, Putin and Singh held talks at the Prime Minister’s residence,” wrote Russian daily newspaper Izvestia.
The paper also praised Singh for pledging to take effective measures soon to protect the rights of women and prevent violence against women.
“Unfortunately, reports of gang assaults on fair sex are not uncommon in India. However, this time the public’s patience seems to have run out,” it said.
“The police have managed to detain six thugs who gangraped the girl and almost beat her boyfriend to death. The people took to the streets and demanded that the authorities not only hang the perpetrators but also make the punishment for such crimes stricter,” it reported.
Russian media also praised the bravery and courage of the victim’s 28-year-old boyfriend who despite being seriously injured tried to protect and save the girl from the rapists and managed to pull her aside from under the wheels of the bus just in time.
Dadan Upadhyay is an Indian journalist based in Moscow.
All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.