SINGAPORE -- A young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus in New Delhi died Saturday at a Singapore hospital after her horrific ordeal galvanized Indians to demand greater protection from sexual violence that involves thousands of women daily in homes, streets and public transport, but which often goes unreported.
She "passed away peacefully" with her family and officials of the Indian Embassy by her side," said Dr. Kevin Loh, chief executive of Mount Elizabeth Hospital, where she had been treated since Thursday.
He said the woman had remained in an extremely critical condition since Thursday, when she was flown to Singapore from India. "She had suffered from severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain."
The woman and a male friend, who have not been identified, were travelling in a public bus after watching a film on the evening of Dec. 16 when they were attacked by six men who took turns raping her. They also beat the couple and inserted an iron rod into her body, resulting in severe organ damage. Both of them were then stripped and thrown off the bus, according to police.
The frightening nature of the crime shocked Indians, who have come out in their thousands for almost daily demonstrations, demanding stronger protection for women and the death penalty for rape, now punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment.
The tragedy has forced India to confront the fact sexually assaulted women are often blamed for the crime, an attitude that forces them to keep quiet and not report the rape to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule. Police often refuse to accept complaints of rape and the rare prosecutions that reach court drag on for years.
After 10 days at a New Delhi hospital, the victim was brought to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital, which specializes in multi-organ transplants.
Police have arrested six people in connection with the attack.
Even politicians and opinion leaders have often suggested women should not go out at night or wear clothes that might seem provocative. Other politicians have come under fire for comments insulting the protesters and diminishing the crime.
On Friday, Abhijit Mukherjee, a national lawmaker and the son of India's president, apologized for calling the protesters "highly dented and painted" women, who go from discos to demonstrations.
-- The Associated Press