Protesters converged at Swami Dayanand Hospital in New Delhi on Friday as shock spread in the Indian capital over the alleged rape and abduction of a 5-year-old girl by a neighbor. The girl, said to be in critical condition, was being taken to a larger facility.
Months after a brutal gang rape of an Indian student prompted widespread soul-searching about the country’s culture of violence against women, the attacks continue. This time, the alleged victim is just 5 years old, reportedly raped by a male neighbor and lying in critical condition in a Delhi hospital. The alleged attack triggered protests in the city, with activists and family members of the child demanding justice and better safety for women and girls. A doctor told reporters that “the next 48 hours will be crucial for her.” The child, whose family lives in a slum on the outskirts of the capital, went missing on April 15 and was found, bruised and semiconscious, in the suspect’s home on Thursday. The suspect allegedly held the girl hostage for three days, raping and torturing her. Activists have demanded tougher laws to deter sex offenders, with some agitating for capital punishment in special cases.
“If you thought just bringing in a new law will stop crimes, you are wrong,” one activist, Kiran Bedi, told an Indian TV channel. “They will reduce, but won’t stop. You need community policing to stop these crimes.”