New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The young Indian woman of 23 years who was raped by six men on 16 December in a suburb of New Delhi died this morning at a hospital in Singapore. The girl arrived at the hospital in critical condition and died of cerebral hemorrhage. Her body will return to the Indian capital for the funeral this evening. Interviewed by AsiaNews Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, says that "the whole Church is praying for the young woman and gathers in solidarity around her family." For the prelate, "this is a sad moment for all of India. The way society treats its women is a sign of moral development of a nation, and so the death of this young woman is a cry for a radical change all over the country". According to the cardinal, this mourning should encourage all Catholics to be fervent witnesses of the value of human life in society.
The attack suffered by the young woman - a medical student - on the evening of December 16 has sparked a strong reaction of civil society, in addition to repeated protests - one of which resulted in the death of a policeman - womens' associations, politicians and students are asking the government for "stringent action" to punish the culprits. Yesterday, Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, broke her silence by expressing solidarity with the young woman, and stressing that "no time will be lost in bringing the perpetrators of such a barbaric act to justice." The constant government reassurances have not been sufficient for the population, which is demanding extreme measures: the death penalty, a registry of rapists nationwide, chemical castration. At the moment six men have been arrested in connection with rape and two police officers have been suspended.
For fear of further protests, the Interior Ministry has forced the closure of the center of the capital and banned gatherings of more than five people. Thousands of police are guarding public buildings and squares. In these hours, hundreds of students are organizing a silent march from the area where the violence occurred to the center of New Delhi.
Today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "very saddened" by the death of the woman, pointing out that the anger of the population is "perfectly understandable". The premier called on all Indians to remain calm and work for the betterment of society: "It would be a real tribute to her memory, if we are able to channel these emotions and energy to do something constructive for women."