Protesters Demanding Tough Rape Laws Clash With Police in India

Police in New Delhi used water cannons and tear gas to disperse a protesting crowd demanding tougher rape laws in India as a 23-year old woman battled for life after she was brutalized in a moving bus on Dec. 16.

Thousands gathered in the vicinity of the presidential palace in the center of the nation’s capital shouting “We want justice” as televised images showed some clashing with the police who used batons to push them back. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde pledged better safety while the leader of the opposition in the lower house of parliament, Sushma Swaraj, called for a special session to discuss violence against women.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during a meeting with Shinde, directed the latter to ensure a sense of security and prevent recurrence of such incidents, the Press Trust of India reported today. All six men accused of raping and torturing the woman over a period of about 45 minutes have been arrested, Chhaya Sharma, a top New Delhi police official told reporters in the city today. Some of the protesters demanded the death penalty for the accused.

Data provided by India’s National Crime Records Bureau show about 24,200 cases of rape and 228,650 cases of crimes against women were reported in 2011. Figures given by the United Nations show 1.8 cases of rape for every 100,000 in India, compared with 63 in Sweden, 29 in the U.K. and 27 in the U.S. Most cases go unreported in India.

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