As the 23-year-old woman who died after she was brutally gang-raped on a bus in Delhi is cremated, it emerges that she told her family that she wanted to live and was optimistic about her future.
The woman, who has not been named, was cremated at a private ceremony in south west Delhi this morning, with her father lighting the funeral pyre. Politicians, including RPN Singh, minister of state for home, and Sheila Dikshit, chief minister, were among those who attended.
But as India is forced to ask searching questions about its attitudes towards sexual violence, with politicians and civil society now calling for harsher sentences for rapists, further details have emerged of the woman at the centre of the case.
A medical student born to a poor family, her father, a loader at Delhi airport, sold off a small piece of land to pay for his daughter to attend a convent school and study physiotherapy. Of her two brothers, one has just finished high school, while another is still a student.
Her family told the Deccan Herald newspaper, in India that she had fought her attackers and said three days after the attack on December 16: “I want to live.”
Her family described how she had given a “brave statement” to a magistrate on December 21, in which she recounted details of the incident – her second, because the first had been “controversial”. She said that she wanted the perpetrators brought to justice.
Doctors said that she remained “psychologically composed” while still conscious.
The woman died in hospital in Singapore during the early hours of Saturday morning of organ failure caused by injuries suffered during the attack. She had been returning home from a screening of the Life of Pi with her boyfriend when she was raped and beaten with an iron bar before being throwing off the moving bus.
Six men, from a New Delhi slum, have been charged with murder, and if found guilty, could be hanged, police have said.
Her friend who had been with her on the bus, who was also attacked, did not attend her cremation, according to reports.
Today, as new figures reported by the Times of India suggested that over the last year, there has only been one conviction for 600 alleged rapes reported to Delhi Police, the Indian Congress is said to be considering a range of new measures to deal with sexual violence.
A Bill could include setting up fast track courts for trying rape cases, while some MPs have even called for chemical castration. Other measures being considered include 30-year sentences for people convicted of rape.
In India, nationwide protests have continued, with police blocking off Delhi’s India Gate and Raisina Hill where violent protests which led to the death of a police officer took place last week.