The young woman whose gang rape and savage beating on a Delhi bus caused protests throughout India has died in a Singapore hospital.
Police in the Indian capital were bracing for fresh demonstrations after doctors from Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth hospital where the 23-year-old victim was being treated said she “passed away peacefully” on Saturday morning local time.
“Her family and officials from the High Commission of India were by her side. The Mount Elizabeth Hospital team of doctors, nurses and staff join her family in mourning her loss,” said Kelvin Loh, the chief executive of the hospital.
Mr Loh said that despite all efforts from a team of eight specialists at the hospital, she “suffered from severe organ failure” following the injuries to her body and brain.
“She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome,” he said.
“We are humbled by the privilege of being tasked to care for her in her final struggle.”
She is understood to have had 95 per cent of her intestines removed during three operations in Delhi’s Safdarjung government hospital following her gang-rape and beating with an iron rod by six men on a bus on December 16. The trainee physiotherapist had been returning from a trip to the cinema with a male companion when they boarded the bus in Delhi’s Saket area. They were attacked after several of the men abused her for being out unaccompanied with a man.
They gang raped her repeatedly in an ordeal which lasted more than an hour as the bus cruised the capital’s streets with its curtains concealing the attacks inside, and then eventually threw her and her friend off the bus on a flyover after they had fallen unconscious.
Doctors in India had said she had been airlifted to Singapore on Thursday after 10 days in a New Delhi hospital because she needed a multi-organ transplant following horrific injuries during her long ordeal at the hands of her rapists. She had arrived in Singapore however with brain injuries and lung and abdomen infections.
India’s High Commissioner to Singapore T.C.A. Raghavan said the woman’s family was “shattered” by her death.
“It was was very trying for the family,” he said. The girl of course was unconscious… I must say they (the family) bore the entire process with a great deal of fortitude and a great deal of courage.”
The attack and the government’s handling of it provoked an outcry throughout India and violent protests in the capital and other cities, with almost daily demonstrations demanding greater protection from sexual violence.
Ministers, including Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, have been accused of overlooking the high level of rapes and sexual assaults in India and a corrupt police and legal system which means few rapists are successfully convicted.
On Friday, Abhijit Mukherjee, a national politician and the son of India’s president, apologised for calling the protesters “highly dented and painted” women, who go from discos to demonstrations.
Delhi’s Traffic police have revealed the bus had been regularly impounded for legal violations in the last six months, but eventually released and allowed to continue working the streets.