Delhi rape victim’s parents hold firm in desire for death penalty
The family of the trainee physiotherapist who was gang-raped in Delhi last December received a new house and 3.5 million rupees (about $54,000) in compensation for their daughter’s torture and death. It’s a bounty they would rather forgo. They want their daughter’s killers dead.
“Earlier, we used to be happy with whatever little we earned,” the victim’s mother told Reuters in an interview on Sunday. “The difference now is that despite having everything, our eyes are wet all the time.”
“When we go out and see other girls smile and giggle, we think our daughter would have also smiled like this, giggled like this; those would have been such wonderful moments. It pains us deeply when we think about that,” said the victim’s father.
The family lives in a three-bedroom apartment in a middle-class suburb. One of the victim’s brothers is enrolled in an elite school; the other has been offered a job in the railways.
The apartment, a gift from the central government, feels forlorn. The family has a washing machine, a television set and some beds. A couple of plastic chairs occupy the living room. A divan sits in one of the empty bedrooms.
In the main bedroom, there is a wooden shrine. The victim gazes at her parents from two garlanded photo frames; her dolls, books, pens and the school trophies she won are stacked below.
“Our daughter cannot come back now, but our goal is to ensure that the criminals get punished, they get hanged and our daughter gets justice,” the mother said, wiping away tears.
The 23-year-old woman was lured by five men and a teenager onto a bus, where they raped and tortured her with a metal bar, prosecutors say. She died of her injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.
The accused, including a bus driver who hanged himself in jail earlier this year, have pleaded not guilty to attacking and killing the woman. Two of the four accused said they were at a party at the time, while another said he was in his native village in the eastern state of Bihar, court documents show.
The fourth admitted he was driving the bus on the night of the attack, but said he did not see or hear anything as the lights were switched off.
One of her brothers, who is studying to be an engineer in Bangalore, did not take up a job with the Indian railways, opting instead to continue his studies.
The second sibling, who is in his final year at school, said little while displaying a clutch of awards honouring the victim after her death. Those included bravery awards and citations of women empowerment from governments, social workers and media houses.
The family is angry with last month’s verdict, which found a teenager guilty in the case and sent him to juvenile detention for three years.
“We are so hurt by the juvenile verdict, it feels like somebody has hit a raw clay pot with stones,” said the father, who still works as a baggage handler at Indira Gandhi International Airport. His colleagues do not know he is the father of the victim, dubbed Nirbhaya (fearless) by Indian media.
“What kind of law is this? I have a fear in my mind because I am grown up and can be punished for a crime, but a kid does not have a hint of fear,” he said. “He can do anything, he can even murder someone, and he will get away. This is disgusting.”
The family wants to name their daughter so that she can be a symbol of India’s efforts to fight sexual assault. Though her name has surfaced in media reports, Indian law does not permit identifying rape victims or their families. Reuters is not publishing the victim’s name.
“Has our child done anything wrong that we have to conceal her name? We did not have an objection then, we do not have an objection now,” the father said. “Her martyrdom will only count when society reforms itself.”
(Disclaimer: This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission. You can follow Anurag on Twitter @anuragkotoky)