Peace vigil held in SF to honor Indian rape victim

Consul N.P. Singh listens to Preeti Shekar from Narika as she hands him a petition to improve safety for women in New Delhi
December 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A young woman who was brutally gang raped and beaten in India has died of her injuries. Her doctors say the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome. Now in San Francisco and around the world people are demanding greater protection for women there.

The woman's name hasn't been made public, but CNN is reporting people in India are calling her "Damini." In Hindi, it means lightning.

Friday's event in San Francisco was planned as a peace vigil in honor of the rape survivor. The group didn't learn that she died until just before the vigil.

Concerned Bay Area residents and members of local South Asian organizations gathered in front of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco for a candlelight vigil in honor of the woman who was gang raped in New Delhi, India and died of her injuries.

"The extent of the violence involved in this was particularly shocking," said Rahul Raguram of San Francisco.

On Dec. 16th, the 23-year-old woman was gang raped and severely beaten while riding a bus. Indian police have arrested six men in connection with the attack. The crime sparked massive protests in India and the outrage has spread.

"It's part of a growing, alarming trend of violence against women in public spaces in India," said Preeti Shekar, the Narika executive director.

Narika is a Bay Area organization working to end domestic violence in the South Asian communities. She helped organize Friday's vigil to send a message to the Indian Consulate.

"This kind of violence is not OK," said Shekar.

Shekar helped circulate a petition for improved security and safety for women in New Delhi.

"Women as citizens, as equal members of society, have a right to safety in public spaces," said Shekar.

The petition was turned over to the consulate. In return, Consul N.P. Singh said the consulate hopes the woman's struggles and sacrifice would not go in vain.

"We are confident that the incident will prove to be a turning point," said Singh.

That is exactly what the group is hoping for.

"It's not something that will happen overnight, but I guess education will help. It's a process that will take time," said Raguram.

The Indian prime minister has assured his country that the government is committed to bringing the guilty to justice as soon as possible.

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