Tragedy on December 16th, 2012
On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old woman was brutally attacked and gang-raped on a bus in South Delhi. She and her (male) friend were on their way back from seeing a film in the city when the bus began to deviate from its route and the driver shut the doors. There were six other men on board the bus and they began to taunt the couple about being out so late. Then the attack began. The woman’s friend was knocked unconscious, and then the woman was dragged to the back of the bus where she was beaten and sexually assaulted for several hours. Once the men finished, they threw her off of the moving bus, and the bus driver attempted to drive over the woman but she was pulled out of the way by her friend. A local found them by the side of the road and immediately called the Delhi police.
The woman was given emergency treatment and underwent several surgeries to help repair the immense damage to her internal organs and combat infection, but on December 29th, she tragically died at a hospital in Singapore. The tragedy gained widespread national and international attention with many calling for reforms to the way India handles sexual assault, and for justice to be served to the perpetrators.
The six attackers were charged with rape, murder, unnatural offences, and destruction of evidence. One of the men was a juvenile at the time and was given a maximum sentence of three years. One of the adult men died in prison, and the remaining four were originally given the death penalty, but their sentences have been appealed and are awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court.
Last month, the BBC aired a documentary on the tragedy called India’s Daughter that seeks to explore the crime as well as the cultural context surrounding it.
It has recently gained international attention as the Indian government has refused to allow its screening in India, due to film-makers not seeking their approval beforehand. In the film, the man who drove the bus, Mukesh Singh, is interviewed. Singh maintains that he has no remorse for this horrific tragedy, stating that the woman was responsible for her rape because decent girls would not be roaming around at that hour. Additionally, according to Singh, she should not have tried to fight back and should have allowed the men to rape her. Because of this interview, the film has become controversial, with many arguing that someone as brutal as Mukesh Singh should not be allowed to defend his crimes. It is important to consider, however, that understanding the cultural context in which these tragic crimes occur is important if we are ever to enact change and ensure that an innocent woman never dies like this again.