BREAKING NEWS President Trump to hold rally in Rochester on Friday Full Story

Indian women's commissioner on hunger strike over rape laws

The head of Delhi's Commission for Women (DCW) is staging an indefinite hunger strike to push for stricter laws for r...

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 1:39 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 1:39 PM

The head of Delhi's Commission for Women (DCW) is staging an indefinite hunger strike to push for stricter laws for rape in India, including the death penalty, after a series of horrific attacks on young girls.

Swati Maliwal, chairwoman of the DCW, has been refusing food since April 13, as protests flared nationwide over the separate alleged rapes of two girls aged 16 and eight.

Lying on an outdoor stage in temperatures reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) in northeast Delhi, Maliwal is surrounded by minders who offer her sips of water to provide relief.

Maliwal is staging her strike at Rajghat, a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi, leader of India's independence movement. father of the nation by Indians, was renowned for his nonviolent protests against British colonial rule.

Activists have rallied hundreds of supporters and are speaking on her behalf, calling for stricter laws and equal rights for women. Holding signs saying "Stop Rape," they chant the same message to passersby and others attracted by the crowds milling around the stage.

Despite reforms, sexual assault survivors face systemic barriers in India

Death penalty for rapists

Maliwal began her hunger strike one day after publishing an open letter addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which she called on rape to be punishable by death.

"We should have a system in this country where anyone who rapes a young girl should be hanged within six months," she wrote.

Following outcry over the gang rape and death of 23-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh in 2012, the central government passed numerous legislative reforms, commonly known as the Nirbhaya Act. The act saw increased penalties for sexual violence, including extending the length of prison sentences and introducing the death penalty in certain cases.

Maliwal is pushing for the death penalty to be handed out in all cases.

Citing outcry over the two recent cases, Maliwal wrote, "I feel upset that the leader of our country doesn't say anything -- let alone do anything about it."

One day after her comments were published -- one of the chorus of voices calling for the Indian Prime Minister to speak out -- Modi finally broke his silence on the issue during a speech in Delhi, promising justice for "our daughters."

BJP under fire

In the last week, thousands of protesters have marched in several cities demanding change in a country where a staggering number of alleged rapes are reported each day.

The latest data from India's National Crime Record Bureau show around 100 alleged attacks are reported to police each day, or nearly 39,000 in 2016, a 12% increase on the previous year.

The two cases that sparked recent protests involved political and religious dimensions. Kuldeep Singh Sengar, an elected BJP member of the Uttar Pradesh state legislative assembly, was arrested last week while police investigate claims he raped a 16-year-old girl in June 2017.

A week after the attack the minor was allegedly abducted and repeatedly raped by others who it is alleged were known to Sengar, who has denied allegations. Prior to his arrest Sengar told CNN affiliate CNN News 18: "I have done nothing wrong. I will be proved innocent after the investigation. The rape allegations are false and baseless."

The alleged involvement of a BJP member has amplified calls for action from Modi.

"If a prime minister is to be held accountable for basic security and exercise of right to life and liberty for half the population of this country, then it should be a problem for Modi," Vrinda Grover, a lawyer and women's rights activist, told CNN.

"In my mind this should be the single most important agenda of the government."

Grover says that the defense of an accused rapist is symptomatic of "polarization and hate ideology" in the country's political system.

"A sitting legislator is yet to be removed by the party. There is therefore some kind of overt or covert political patronage. The signal from the top is that there is impunity for sexual violence," she said.

The case of the gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir state was originally reported in January.

But it wasn't until last week, when a group of lawyers and right-wing Hindu activists attempted to forcibly block investigators from filing charges against the men accused, that the case began to gain nationwide attention.

Police say the young girl, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic community known as the Bakarwals, was abducted while grazing horses in a meadow in the isolated Himalayan district of Kathua on January 12.

From there, it is alleged she was taken to a Hindu temple, where she was drugged, held captive and repeatedly raped for five days by different men.

Police have arrested eight men in connection with the death of the girl, all of whom are Hindu. Seven of the eight have pleaded not guilty (the eighth will be tried separately as a minor).

Maliwal has vowed to maintain her hunger strike until the government introduces measures to ensure all accused attackers are brought to justice.

She wrote in her letter to Modi that she'll be there "until he comes up with a concrete plan to combat rising sexual crimes against women and children in the country."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 137536

Reported Deaths: 2421
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin34657994
Ramsey14342362
Dakota10027138
Anoka9039151
Washington608972
Stearns599144
Scott349634
Olmsted331430
St. Louis307970
Wright260915
Clay236243
Nobles230916
Blue Earth20667
Carver18477
Kandiyohi17535
Sherburne173322
Rice167410
Mower153517
Winona127819
Chisago10832
Crow Wing106222
Lyon9966
Benton9769
Waseca9379
Beltrami9147
Otter Tail9017
Todd8656
Steele7823
Morrison77610
Itasca76317
Nicollet74718
Douglas7283
Polk7244
Freeborn6914
Le Sueur6456
Goodhue62511
Martin61518
McLeod6104
Becker5884
Watonwan5794
Isanti5715
Pine5540
Chippewa4663
Carlton4622
Mille Lacs42715
Hubbard4103
Dodge4040
Wabasha3970
Cass3905
Pipestone35917
Rock3484
Meeker3453
Brown3333
Yellow Medicine2926
Roseau2900
Murray2893
Cottonwood2860
Redwood28411
Fillmore2640
Sibley2603
Renville25812
Wadena2553
Faribault2390
Kanabec22510
Jackson2171
Houston2121
Swift2091
Pennington2071
Unassigned19353
Lincoln1890
Stevens1871
Aitkin1862
Koochiching1725
Pope1650
Lac qui Parle1443
Big Stone1431
Wilkin1404
Marshall1311
Lake1260
Norman1210
Mahnomen1172
Clearwater1140
Grant994
Red Lake812
Traverse580
Kittson490
Lake of the Woods441
Cook170

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117876

Reported Deaths: 1666
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk19173289
Woodbury728597
Johnson590630
Black Hawk5727101
Linn5692132
Dubuque529558
Scott466241
Story403918
Dallas348544
Pottawattamie326744
Sioux247017
Buena Vista226812
Marshall204436
Webster189115
Plymouth167831
Wapello154162
Clinton150227
Muscatine148758
Des Moines140910
Cerro Gordo140227
Crawford136314
Warren12737
Carroll116813
Jasper112334
Henry10745
Marion103211
Lee95910
Tama95837
Delaware80213
Dickinson7529
Wright7341
Boone7269
Mahaska70924
Bremer6879
Harrison67315
Washington66711
Jackson6463
Benton5982
Lyon5568
Clay5414
Louisa52515
Winnebago50219
Hardin4837
Winneshiek4839
Hamilton4784
Cedar4777
Kossuth4770
Buchanan4625
Poweshiek46211
Jones4544
Clayton4503
Floyd44011
Emmet43520
Iowa4189
Page4130
Guthrie40715
Cherokee4062
Mills4053
Sac4034
Cass4023
Butler3883
Fayette3844
Franklin38218
Shelby3812
Allamakee3809
Chickasaw3641
Madison3643
Clarke3573
Humboldt3383
Hancock3314
Grundy3186
Palo Alto3162
Calhoun3124
Osceola2890
Mitchell2831
Howard2749
Monroe26211
Union2524
Taylor2482
Jefferson2451
Monona2452
Appanoose2333
Pocahontas2322
Fremont2091
Lucas2066
Ida1962
Greene1880
Van Buren1812
Montgomery1807
Davis1794
Adair1771
Keokuk1641
Decatur1530
Audubon1511
Worth1460
Wayne1323
Ringgold922
Adams830
Unassigned150
Rochester
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 28°
Mason City
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 30°
Albert Lea
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 34°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
43° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 37°
Charles City
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 34°
Tracking plenty of sunshine through the week!
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events