Delhi Hospital Says 5-Year-Old Rape Victim Improving amid Fresh Rallies
Anti-rape protesters staged fresh rallies Sunday sparked by the brutal rape of an abducted five-year-old Indian girl in New Delhi, as doctors said the victim was showing signs of "improvement.”
A team of doctors at New Delhi's top government hospital are treating the child and officials said that she was in "stable condition".
The attack on the five-year-old and the following public revulsion was reminiscent of the horrifying gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus last December, who died from her injuries.
That case led to weeks of protests and a national debate over the status of women in India, putting the spotlight on the high incidence of sexual violence.
The victim was being treated for serious internal injuries sustained during a more than 40-hour ordeal, allegedly at the hands of a garment worker who was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of carrying out the attack.
"She is in stable condition and showing signs of improvement," hospital medical superintendent D.K. Sharma told Agence France Presse.
"She is conscious and talking to her parents, doctors and nurses and it can be said there is no danger to her life now," he added.
Later, speaking with reporters Sharma said the child had been gravely injured.
But "she is perhaps too young to understand the gravity of the situation", he added.
India's prime minister Sunday reminded officials of the protests in the wake of the gang-rape in December and the latest attack and urged them to address growing concerns over the "safety, security and status of women" in India.
"The gruesome assault on a little child a few days back reminds us of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity from our society," Manmohan Singh said.
"The agitations that have followed the two incidents also point to the need for showing concern and sensitivity while dealing with the public anxiety that such incidents generate," Singh said.
The premier said his government toughened an anti-rape law after the attack in December on the female student by six men in a bus. She died some two weeks later of internal injuries.
"Our government has moved with speed in strengthening the law to be able to deal more effectively with offenses against women."
Newspapers highlighted the rape of the child on their front pages for the second day on Sunday.
"Seething Delhi erupts in protests," Sunday Pioneer said in a headline.
Demonstrators carrying flags and posters reached the city's main police headquarters to protest, an AFP photographer reported from the site.
Another group of protesters were outside the hospital where she is under round-the-clock observation, witnesses said.
The 22-year-old suspect, Manoj Kumar, described by media reports as a tenant in the child's house, was apprehended after he fled to his in-laws' home in the eastern state of Bihar.
Police accused Kumar of repeatedly attacking the child inside a locked room after kidnapping her Monday in a lower middle-class area of New Delhi.
The toughened anti-rape law approved last month by parliament provides for a minimum 20-year prison sentence for gang-rape, which can be extended to life in jail.
It also provides for the death sentence if a rape victim dies or is left in a vegetative state. Under the previous law governing sexual offenses, a rapist faced up to 10 years in jail.