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Women still unsafe in India, says family of gang-rape victim

NEW DELHI: Women’s safety in India has not improved since the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi, the victim’s parents said Tuesday on the anniversary of the attack that sparked international outrage.

Candlelit vigils and a public meeting on women’s safety were held in New Delhi to mark the second anniversary of the attack that unleashed a wave of public anger over violence against women in India.

The mother of the 23-year-old student said she was disheartened by what she said were still high numbers of attacks, despite a tougher law against rapists.

“There are attacks happening everyday,” the mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told NDTV news channel.

“Seeing this (daily reports of attacks), it does not feel like anything has changed. Everything is the same.”

A survey published Tuesday said 91 percent of women saw no improvement in safety despite a series of measures in the aftermath of the attack — including better policing, women’s helplines and fast-track courts as well as the new law.

The survey by the Hindustan Times newspaper of 2,557 women also said 97 percent reported they had been victims themselves of some kind of sexual harassment.

The physiotherapy student was savagely attacked by six men after boarding a bus on her way home from the cinema with a male friend on December 16, 2012.

The student, who was also attacked with an iron rod, died from her injuries 13 days later but had been able to speak to police about the crime.

The brutality of the assault sparked large-scale street protests.

Four of her attackers were convicted and given the death penalty in September 2013 after the case was fast-tracked, while a juvenile was sentenced to a correctional facility.

Another died in jail after apparently committing suicide.

The case sparked soul-searching about India’s treatment of women and also led to initiatives to educate men about respect and equal gender rights in the deeply patriarchal country.

But activists say this month’s case of a female passenger allegedly raped by an Uber taxi driver with a record of sexual attacks shows India still has a long way to go.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event to commemorate her 23-year-old daughter’s death two years ago, the victim’s father called for a collective change in society’s attitude towards women.

“The government has changed the laws but that alone won’t help. For things to change, the society as a whole needs to change the way it treats and looks at women,” the father told AFP.

“This anniversary is obviously a sad day for us. It refreshes all those painful memories. We just hope that her killers are executed before the next anniversary.” -AFP

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