India rocked by deadly protests over sex attacks

Police shot dead a journalist yesterday during a protest over a sex assault on an actress in northeast India as security forces in New Delhi fired tear gas at new demonstrations over a student’s gang-rape.

After the victim of a gang-rape in Delhi began recounting her ordeal to police, a wave of revulsion over sex crimes spread to the remote state of Manipur where a protest was held over the attempted rape of the actress.

A police spokesman said that the 36-year-old cameraman, who was working for the national Doordarshan network, was “killed in police firing” while covering a protest that turned violent in the town of Imphal.

Police have yet to arrest someone over the December 18 assault on the 22-year-old actress and model known as Momoko, who has waived her right to anonymity and who has appeared on television to demand justice.

Momoko has said that a local militant dragged her away during a concert last week and then tried to rape her before she managed to fight him off and flee.

“We want a strong message to be sent that perpetrators of such crimes have no place in our society,” said Bala Bedi, a woman rights activists in Imphal who took part in yesterday’s protest.

India has seen a string of protests across the country in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape, which has shone the spotlight on the frightening incidence of violence against women in India. National crime records show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year were against women. Delhi has been dubbed the rape capital of India with government figures showing the number of rapes in the city rising 17 per cent to 661 this year.

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student, who has been battling for her life since the late-night assault on a bus, gave her first statement to police late Saturday in the hospital where she is being treated.

“All six men took turns to sexually assault me,” the Hindustan Times newspaper quoted the victim as saying to police. “They threw us on the side of the road where I then fainted,” she added.

Her answers appeared to confirm most of the details by her 28-year-old male companion, who was also assaulted and thrown off the vehicle.


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