Baton-wielding police officers charged at demonstrators following an altercation outside the presidential palace in Delhi, India on Saturday. Hundreds of people gathered gather to raise their voices after a horrific gang rape and to protest a perceived failure by authorities to ensure women’s safety.
The demonstration started on Saturday morning as people from all over the city came together to express their solidarity for the victim who was raped on a moving bus on Dec. 16.
The protest march, which began at India Gate, turned violent as thousands of demonstrators marched towards the presidential house, breaching police barricades and demanding the execution of the perpetrators.
In the evening, protestors reportedly started throwing empty bottles at the barricades following an altercation with the police. Officers, in response, carried out a full-fledged baton charge on the protestors.
Earlier, riot police vehicles sprayed jets of water and tear gas shells at the demonstrators, who continued to shout their slogan of “We want justice.”
Marches, demonstrations and candlelight vigils have spread during the week to cities in states from the north of the country to the south.
The 23-year-old medical student, who is fighting for her life in a Delhi hospital, was thrown out of a moving bus after the attack. She has severe genital, abdominal and head injuries.
Her friend unsuccessfully tried to prevent the men from attacking.
Police in eastern India’s Bihar state on Friday arrested the sixth suspect. Authorities say they’ve now arrested all those allegedly responsible for the crime.
The public verbal and physical sexual harassment of women, known as “eve-teasing”, is routine in Delhi, which has come to be known as India’s “rape capital”.
Last week’s attack provoked uproar in both houses of parliament earlier this week, prompting the authorities to announce measures to make the capital safer for women. These include increased policing and fast-tracking court hearings for rape.
The brutal nature of the Delhi incident has shocked the nation where one woman is raped every 20 minutes, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. The agency reported 24,206 rapes in 2011 — an almost 10 per cent rise over the previous year.
Delhi, home to about 16 million people, has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s mega cities. Police figures show rape is reported on average every 18 hours and some other form of sexual attack every 14 hours in the capital.
Women in India face a multitude of threats, from illegal abortions of female fetuses due to a preference for sons, to the murders of brides by in-laws for want of more dowry, child marriage and human trafficking.